Invisible truths – An artistic exploration of perinatal mental health services in Scotland

Maternal Mental Health Scotland: Experts by Experience are a community of passionate individuals with lived experience of perinatal mental health issues. using their collective voice to raise awareness, and campaign for improved perinatal services across Scotland. Early in 2020, we decided to set about creating an artistic response to our experiences with a view to creating a body of work which would engage the public and policy makers alike, sparking conversations and shining a light on the state of perinatal mental health services in Scotland.

We were fortunate to receive a grant from the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Fund, and quickly commenced the project, as a group of twelve, meeting monthly for creative sessions. Facilitated by Elaine Connell of Blank Canvas Peer Support, and using a range of media, the artists from across Scotland have produced a body of work which depicts their journeys to recovery from perinatal mental illness.

There are stories of despair and hope alike, with examples of supportive therapeutic relationships, as well as failings in care. The group have been extremely brave in sharing their stories, and hope that this project will help towards improving care and service provision for the mothers of the future, and their partners & families. 

Never have I ever felt so alone, so scared, so ashamed. At no point was I alone, I just never felt anyone fully understood, nobody understood me, my illness, my fears. And then I joined the experts by experience group. It’s not nice to think of other people suffering, but to know I’m really not alone in my experiences just changed everything. It’s given me the confidence to share my story and I hope that this, in turn, can help someone else. I’m excited to be part of this journey, improving perinatal mental health services in Scotland, raising awareness and reducing stigma!Ali Aitken

Seeing the art project finished is very emotive, hopefully in sharing our art and writing with others it will help raise awareness about the barriers that may arise trying to access treatment.Vicky Anderson

Take a look and please get in touch if you’re interested in exhibiting the pieces in your health board, third sector organisation, art gallery or library.

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