Gail’s Story #MaternalMentalHealthWeek2022

This week we are celebrating Maternal Mental Health Week here at Home-Start. Our volunteers help mothers from across the world deal with issues in their lives that can have a tremendous impact on their mental health. The work we do at Home-Start can support mothers during these difficult times. Read on to hear a story about a young mother who was helped by Home-Start Newcastle, Australia.

One of the many successful projects that are run in Newcastle, Australia is one that focuses on Early Literacy with young children. The project aims to provide children with language development and early literacy skills in readiness for school. For mothers, prepping young children for school can be a stressful and daunting experience, particularly when you have everyday duties and work to deal with. Michelle McDonell, CEO of Home-Start Australia, discusses how many of the families in this program are also dealing with the fact that English is their second language at home. Many parents in these circumstances have low English literacy skills, which only adds to the stress of this process. Michelle notes that many parents within this program have extra barriers including mental health issues and even intellectual disabilities at times. Michelle tells us about a time when this particular Home-Start project not only benefited the young children but a mother also:

“The young mum in the attached photos is Hmong and when we first met her she had very little English. We introduced her volunteer (Gail) to the family approximately 18 months ago. Gail regularly reads with the boys and their mother and has become a great support to the family.

Since Gail started visiting, the mum has grown so much. She is much more confident and outgoing now. So much so that she was very keen to have her photo taken with her sons and the Home-Start volunteer to show her appreciation for the support she has received from Home-Start. Since the volunteer’s introduction, the Mum has passed her
driving test gained her Australian Citizenship and started an English Literacy Course for adults.

Her boys are extremely clever and are also doing very very well, recognizing letters, sounds, and even some reading.”