Good mental health for parents, including expecting parents, is so important and I cannot it emphasise it enough. This week is Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week. PANDA was established in 2005 and since then has been a leader in the perinatal mental health sector. PANDA aims to promote awareness about perinatal anxiety and depression, including signs to look for and where to go to seek support.
Mental Health Issues are Common
I’ve been blown away by the statistics on mental illness whilst researching for this blog article. Mental illness is so very common but there is still a stigma attached to it. Did you know that one in five (that’s 20%) of Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year. 45% of Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime! Beyond the facts and figures are real people suffering from mental illness! Most people have been touched at some point by mental illness whether it’s a friend, family member or personally.
Everyone Needs to Help
We all need to help promote social and emotional well being to the community, encourage people to maximise their health potential, enhance the coping capacity of communities, families, individuals and increase good mental health recovery.
Both Parents Need Attention
Good mental health means that both Mum and Dad are feeling positive and getting the support they need. Up to one in five expecting or new mothers and one in ten expecting or new fathers will experience perinatal anxiety or depression.
Mums often have to adjust quickly to the demands of motherhood, usually under a cloud of sleep deprivation. New fathers also need support as they adjust to their new role and try to support their partner. It happened to me – I know that sleep deprivation and the health issues with my first born Jacob lead me down a very dark path. I did manage to get myself back on track, but I realise now that life is never going to be easy and I need to manage my stress! I’ve found that if I’m mentally healthy and positive this permeates through to the whole family.
Some Questions You Might Ask Yourself
Some feelings new Mums and Dads might have are:
I don’t know what’s going on but I just don’t feel like myself
It’s hard not to stop thinking about the birth…it was nothing like I had planned
I’m so raw and on edge if anyone says anything to me I’m going to break down and cry
I hate being a mother/father…I feel so guilty
I’m struggling in my relationship…everything has changed since the birth of my baby
Why don’t I feel that instant bond with my baby?…I’m a bad parent
I am so tired I just can’t do this anymore
This parenting thing is just too hard…I want to run away
Ask for Help If You Need It
If you have any thoughts or feelings along these lines you’re definitely not alone and should seek help and support as soon as possible, please don’t suffer in silence – reach out to someone that you trust and ask for help. It takes courage to ask for help, but you need to do it for yourself, your baby and your family.
Ways to Improve Good Mental Health
We have also written another Blog on 11 tips to help stay mentally healthy which may be helpful to you and your family if you’re not suffering from anxiety or depression and want to make sure you stay on track. Good mental health requires effort and attention to make sure you stay on track.
You also need to be aware of Postnatal Psychosis which is a very serious mental health illness that is potentially life threatening for both Mum and baby. It can happen without any prior history of mental illness. Severe sleep deprivation and rapid changes after birth can be contributing factors. If you suspect you, your partner or relative may be experiencing Postnatal Psychosis then please seek help immediately.
Where to Get Help
Some organisations you can contact for help and support are:
Your GP or other healthcare professional
Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia – www.panda.org.au or phone 1300 726 306
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 – www.beyondblue.org.au
Act Belong Commit www.actbelongcommit.org.au
Community Child Health nurse – contact via the Health Department in your state