Most people know about postnatal depression. If you haven’t experienced it personally, you may have heard of a friend or relative experiencing it. Or maybe you haven’t. Even in this enlightened day and age, when a new mother is suffering from postnatal depression, it can be in silence.
The official week for postnatal awareness was renamed Perinatal Depression and Anxiety (PANDA) Awareness Week in 2020 and took place in November.
This acknowledges the importance of recognising and supporting parents’ mental health – not just after the baby is born – but during pregnancy (antenatal) as well. For mothers in particular, anecdotal evidence supports the importance of having contact with other mothers, who may have had a similar experience.
First time mummies might think the idea of being in a mothers’ group sounds a bit old-hat, what their grandmothers did. But increasingly new mothers – and fathers – are finding great support in these groups. Talking baby nappies and baby food is not boring to these other new parents. Far from it, the topics that they would never bring up with their colleagues, make perfect conversation starters for other new mothers and fathers, in the right setting.
Whether you have had a baby or not, you can still support your friends going through perinatal and postnatal depression.
- Ask what you can do to help. They may not want to talk about it, and a distraction might be a good idea.
- If they do want to talk about it, really listen. Don’t offer advice or solutions unless asked for; and especially not in front of other people.
- Don’t tell them your own personal problems, find another friend to talk these through with if you need to.
- Offer to babysit if it is appropriate. Suggest even just for a short while, so they can do something nice for themselves, like get a haircut or a massage.
- Don’t be afraid of bringing up the subject of pregnancy-related depression. People in this situation might be sick of pretending ‘everything’s fine’.
Where to get help
PANDA National Perinatal Mental Health Helpline, 9am-7:30pm, Mon-Sat: 1300 726 306
You can also ask a question via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and a helpline team member will get back to you during these hours.
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Lifeline 13 11 14
If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call Emergency on 000
This wellbeing message is brought to you by the health and wellbeing team at rt health – the health fund for transport and energy people. The health information provided here is intended to be informative only and should be carefully evaluated for its source, accuracy, completeness and relevance for your purposes. It is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional. Always obtain appropriate professional advice relevant to your particular circumstances.