Maternal journal explores the potential of ‘journaling’ as a creative & therapeutic tool to promote good mental health and wellbeing for pregnant women and new mothers who have a history of mild to moderate mental health problems.
Maternal Journal participant Lynn Lu
Maternal journal came out of a shared interest between collaborators artist/midwife Laura Godfrey-Isaacs and psycharitrist Professor Carmine Pariante in creative and interdisciplinary approaches to perinatal mental health.
The project involved working with a group of pregnant women and new mothers, who have a history of mild to moderate mental health problems, introducing them to the practice of ‘journaling’ as a way to express feelings, reflect on their experiences and promote good mental health and wellbeing.
Creative forms such as the sketchbook, diary, scrapbook or devices such as video diaries, blogging,Twitter or Instagram were explored. The project involved working with visual and craft artists, poets, cartoonists and writers, Hollie McNish, Kate Evans (aka Cartoon Kate), Laura Godfrey-Isaacs, Frances Burden, Rebecca Fortnum and Sharon Boothroyd. They devised creative workshops through which the women were supported to create the journal in a variety of genres, as well as share their work in an open discursive group discussion, in order to develop a long-term strategy of journaling to promote good mental health and wellbeing.
Maternal journal proposed the use of journaling as a creative, psychosocial and therapeutic tool for those at increased risk of mental health problems during the perinatal period which can be applied in an arts, midwifery and therapeutic context. Further long-term research and creative projects with journaling were identified through this project and wide dissemination and uptake of the Maternal Journal idea has been sought. Public presentation of the project has been created for a variety of contexts including online, and includes several short films created by photography student Martin Ramos at the Royal College of Art, alongside exhibition of some of the journals as well as contributions by participating artists, academics and women.
So far, three blogs about the project have been written by cultural lead Laura Godfrey-Isaacs which can be read below:
Journaling In Pregnancy
Professor Carmine Pariante has also written the following blog in relation to the project.
Maternal journal drawing by participant Amy Dignam
Maternal journal workshops, Ovalhouse Theatre A series of workshops led by five different artists explored various creative forms of journaling.
Project legacy films
Film maker: Martim Ramos
Carmine M. Pariante is Professor of Biological Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, and Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. He investigates the role of stress in the pathogenesis of mental disorders and in the response to psychotropic drugs, both in clinical samples and experimental settings. His work focuses on depression and fatigue, with a particular interest in the perinatal period and in subjects with medical disorders. Moreover, he also uses experimental and cellular models.Professor Pariante has received numerous awards for his research, most recently the 2012 “Academic Psychiatrist of the Year” Award from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the 2015 Anna-Monika Prize for Research on Depression, the 2016 PNIRS Normal Cousins Award for Research in Psychoneuroimmunology, and the 2017 Adrea Leadsom Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Infant Mental Health.His dream is that new therapeutic tools targeting the stress system will soon be available to alleviate the suffering of patients with mental health problems. Click here to follow Carmine on Twitter.
Laura Godfrey-Isaacs is an artist, midwife and feminist academic and activist. She spent over twenty years in the arts, as a visual arts, academic and creative producer. In 2016 she graduated as a midwife from King’s College London, and now works at King’s College Hospital, London. She aspires to bring her knowledge and experience in the arts together with midwifery, to bring fresh interdisciplinary perspectives to inform education, practice and research. She is currently Research Associate with The Digital Institute for Early Parenthood, Ambassador for Proceate Projects and co-lead of the Health policy committee at The Women’s Equality Party. In 2017 she joined the Leadership Thought Group at the NMC charged with revising the Midwifery Education Standards.Click here to follow Laura on Twitter and read her blog here.
Rebecca Bind - PhD student
Kristi Sawyer - PhD student
Beatrice Allegri - PhD student
Maternal Journal is a collaboration between King’s College London’s Department of Psychological Medicine and Laura Godfrey-Isaacs, brokered and supported by the Cultural Institute at King’s.