Free online writing sessions for mums in South Yorkshire who’ve experienced perinatal mental health issues

Following the success of the pilot project, our Perinatal Mental Health service are excited to offer another series of six online Expressive Writing sessions for people who’ve experienced mental distress around the time of having a baby. The sessions aim to increase participants’ confidence and enjoyment in putting pen to paper to express themselves.

The project is being run in partnership between the Royal Literary Fund and the NHS Perinatal Mental Health service in Sheffield. The author involved is Susan Elliot Wright, whose 2019 novel, The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood, centres around perinatal mental health experiences.

The sessions will take place each week on Wednesdays from 22nd February to 29th March. Sessions will last for 90 minutes, from 1 to 2:30pm, and will be held on Microsoft Teams, which can be accessed by an app download. Attendance is free. 

What happens in the sessions?

Susan will read a specially selected poem, short story, or other piece of writing, then the group will discuss that piece and what it evokes. This will be followed by a short writing exercise, which can take any form - there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The end product is not the focus, because it’s all about the process – you don’t need to worry about spelling and grammar!

Susan Elliot Wright says, “I’ve had a special interest in perinatal mental health ever since my own experience of perinatal mental distress following the births of my babies almost 40 years ago. I am passionate about raising awareness of perinatal mental health, which is why I’m keen to be involved with this project, and partly why I wrote the book. I’m very excited about these sessions, and I’d say to anyone thinking of signing up: It’ll be friendly, relaxed, stimulating and encouraging. It’s an opportunity to use the written word to explore your thoughts and feelings about a variety of topics – it’s your time, to use your words, in your way.”

Amy Jenkin, a Mental Health Nurse and the Sheffield Perinatal Mental Health Service Manager, said, “We’re really happy to be advertising this second run of sessions. We want to offer people who’ve experienced mental distress around the time of having a baby an enriching creative opportunity this winter.”

Here's what participants from the last sessions said

“I found the group really comforting and supporting. I’d have never put pen to paper if I hadn’t committed to the group. I found it really useful to be able to use writing as a way to express some of things I’ve been feeling.”

“I’ve really thoroughly enjoyed these sessions and will miss them! I loved the way they made me carve some time out to write, and I was often amazed by what came out.” 

“I think the time day and length of the sessions were good and easy to access.”

“I uncovered lost memories and new ideas though the course of the activities. Another thing I loved was hearing the writings of other women. The sessions are unlike any other mother-and-baby activity as you cut out all the chat about nap times etc and get thrilling glimpses into other people’s inner lives and realities through their writing.”

“I found Susan to be a really friendly facilitator who put us at ease.”

“This was healing and very helpful in beginning to process my experiences, especially as the group was supportive, and I felt it was held very well by Susan.”

Who can attend?

Anyone who identifies as having experienced mental distress around the time of having a baby in South Yorkshire can attend the sessions.

You should ensure you are available for all (or the majority) of the six sessions. 

Taking part

There are 15 spaces on the course, these will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

The format will be relaxed, and we understand that you might need to respond to your baby or child(ren) during the session.

These sessions are not designed as a place to ask for help and do not form part of the care or support offered by the Sheffield Perinatal Mental Health Service, but there will be an opportunity at the end of each session to be signposted to mental health support that is available.  


The sessions will offer a safe and confidential space. Everyone taking part will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement declaring that they will not share anything discussed or identify other participants without their consent.

We will encourage you to turn your camera on during the sessions.

Find out more

To sign up, or if you have any questions, please email with ‘expressive writing’ in the subject line. Ensure your email contains your name and phone number so that someone from the service can get in touch.