Letting women tell their maternal mental health stories

workingmums.co.uk speaks to Anna Ceesay, founder of a new website, Motherdom, which is dedicated to maternal mental health and well being.

silhouette of a person with grey paper scrunched up around to depict depression


Anna Ceesay is founder of a new website, Motherdom, the UK’s first media platform dedicated to maternal mental health and wellbeing. She spoke to workingmums.co.uk about how she came to set it up and what its aims to achieve.

What prompted you to set up the site and what have been the challenges doing so in a pandemic?

Anna Ceesay: I set up Motherdom after going through low mood and anxiety in my second pregnancy. I felt completely alone and really scared. I wanted to see other mum’s stories of their mental health journeys and was shocked that a media platform like this didn’t already exist. After receiving CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) through the NHS, I wanted to help other mums who might be in the same boat as me. I’m a journalist so I used those skills to make it happen. Although the website is new, we published a print magazine in 2019 so a lot of the groundwork was already there. But it was definitely a challenge to balance having the kids at home (my daughter is nearly eight and my son is four now) while working on it!

What do you offer by way of support?

AC: We hope that our stories will let parents know that they’re not alone. Our content is designed to educate, uplift and empower our readers in as safe a way as possible. All of the original articles on the website are reviewed by a member of our Editorial Board, which is made up of 16 amazing women who are all experts in different areas of maternal health and wellbeing. We also ask our contributors whether they have already accessed professional support in order to safeguard them. In addition, we have a growing directory of maternal health and wellness practitioners who work in areas such as birthing, coaching, psychology and yoga.

What role do you think personal stories and mothers being able to share what has happened to them in addressing mental health issues or raising the profile of them?

AC: Sharing personal stories about maternal mental ill-health can reassure others that they’re not alone. We would love our content to help readers feel they can be more honest with themselves and others about how they’re feeling, be more likely to seek effective and supportive help and advice and have a greater sense of belonging to a supportive community of parents who are openly discussing their mental health. We also want to increase awareness of maternal mental ill-health: the breadth of conditions, improving knowledge of the recovery process, reducing stigmatisation, as well as deepening professionals’ understanding of the lived experiences of parents.

Do you plan to campaign for greater resources for maternal mental health?

AC: Motherdom is a member of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance and we fully support their vision to see all women across the UK get consistent, accessible and quality care and support for their mental health during pregnancy and in the year after giving birth.

Can you outline what you mean by creative coaching and what its aims are?

AC: As an additional service of Motherdom, I am offering creative coaching (primarily) to women who have a creative business or idea. As a woman who runs her own creative business, I understand the unique challenges that you can face: whether it’s a lack of confidence in your idea, imposter syndrome or time management issues. I’m a graduate of the Pure Coaching Academy and am working towards gaining my accreditation with the International Authority for Professional Coaching and Mentors (IAPC&M). To find out more about my coaching service, please check out https://annaceesay.co.uk

There have been studies showing the impact of Covid on maternal mental health. Do you anticipate this having a knock-on impact at work in the absence of adequate support, for example, causing women to drop out?

AC: It’s been well reported that the pandemic has put unequal pressure on mums. According to the TUC, who surveyed 50,000 working mums in January 2021, nine out of 10 said that their mental health had been negatively impacted. More recently, the UK government has said that they will be making the offer of flexible working standard. So it’s been a really tough time for mums having to juggle the demands of childcare and work, but perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope in this promise from the government.

Should employers being doing more to address maternal mental health?

AC: Absolutely – everyone should be doing more to address maternal mental health!

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