New mothers to miss out on postnatal depression support services due to soaring demand and funding shortfall
Thousands of women suffering postnatal depression will miss out on vital support services as Australia’s “booming” birthrate outstrips the resources available to assist vulnerable mothers. PANDA today launched the Million Mums in May campaign, calling for urgent, increased funding to support the growing number of women diagnosed with postnatal depression.
Demand for PANDA's Helpline, as the only specialist, national perinatal depression helpline support service, has increased by 70% in the last two years. With rising birthrates this number is set to grow even further, with predictions of nearly 50,000 women affected by postnatal depression in 2015.
Despite the increased birthrate and demand for services, funding to PANDA has remained stagnant. This is creating a gap between those who desperately need help and PANDA’s capacity to provide essential information, referrals and ongoing counseling services.
PANDA CEO, Belinda Horton, said without immediate, additional funding, PANDA would not be able to keep pace with increasing demand and the around the clock needs of women with postnatal depression and their families.
“Operating at maximum capacity, PANDA’s National Perinatal Depression Helpline can help only 7% of the mums who need it. The Australian and state governments must provide funding to ensure that PANDA's Helpline is available 24/7. Without the additional funds, 93 out of 100 struggling mums will miss out on urgently needed support from PANDA, with devastating effects for them and their families,” Belinda Horton said.
PANDA’s 1 Millions Mums in May seeks to raise awareness of the crisis in funding for postnatal depression support services and asks governments for essential funding for the PANDA Helpline.
In the lead up to Mother’s Day, one million mums from around Australia are being asked to help PANDA’s campaign and support other mums by contacting their local MP at millionmums.org.au.
“Nearly 16% of mums will suffer from postnatal depression in 2013. These figures mean approximately 48,000 Australian mums are not enjoying life with their babies. We fear that as the birthrate increases more mums will miss out on the support they need from PANDA and not know where to go for help because of the lack of funding”, Belinda Horton said.
“Families in regional and rural areas are particularly at risk as often PANDA’s helpline is the only accessible service. Every day we speak to mums who are dealing with desperate feelings of distress, anxiety and depression while caring for their little ones. Some of them feel so alone and unsafe. While we are thankful for the Federal Government’s support to date, there is no doubt we now need to be available 24 hours, 7 days a week to make sure no family loses a loved one to this terrible illness,” said Belinda Horton.
Community support is critical to the Million Mums in May campaign. Without it, more and more new mothers suffering from postnatal depression may not get the help they desperately need. “We are calling on mothers to contact their MPs to tell them how vital support services for postnatal depression can be to a young family,” said Belinda Horton.