Partnership with Centre for Performance Science (Imperial College London and Royal College of Music)
Post-natal depression (PND) is thought to affect at least 13% of new mothers, with factors such as a lack of social support known to be a contributing factor. In this project we used multiple approaches to investigate if and how group singing can support women with symptoms of PND. This included a randomised controlled trial (RCT) with 134 mums experiencing symptoms of PND. Women were randomly allocated to one of three programmes for a period of ten weeks:
- group singing
- creative play
- care as normal
Their symptoms of PND were measured at the start, after six weeks, and at the end of the programmes.
As part of the RCT, interviews were held with the mums and with the programme leaders. Separate experiments were conducted to measure the impact of group singing on stress hormones and perceived mother-baby closeness. Finally, surveys were completed by over 2,000 women across England. These explored links between involvement in creative activities and mental wellbeing during pregnancy and the first year of motherhood.
- For mums with moderate-severe symptoms of PND, the group singing programme led to significantly faster recovery than creative play or care as normal. After just six weeks of singing, these mums had experienced a decrease of nearly 35% in their symptoms. 65% no longer had moderate-severe symptoms.
- Group singing is linked with greater increases in perceived mother-baby closeness in comparison to other social interactions as well as greater decreases in cortisol, a stress hormone, than other social interactions.
- Singing during pregnancy and post-birth on a daily basis is linked with a reduced risk of developing PND as well as enhanced wellbeing and self-esteem.
A full list of publications can be found here.