PANDA provides a vital service across Australia by offering the only specialist national perinatal mental health telephone counselling service, as well as reducing stigma around perinatal anxiety and depression, and providing education services to health professionals and the wider community.
PANDA's services include:
Helpline (10am – 5pm Monday to Friday)
PANDA's telephone information, counselling and referral service is staffed by trained volunteers, professional counsellors and supervising staff. Many helpline counsellors have had their own experience of perinatal depression or anxiety.
There are about 1000 incoming and outgoing calls to the helpline each month. PANDA receives callers concerned about themselves and callers concerned about how someone else is coping either during pregnancy or after childbirth. Many partners, extended family members and friends ring the helpline.
The desired outcome is that callers feel supported, gain increased understanding of what they are experiencing and receive information on services and supports in their local areas. PANDA has access to a database of local services throughout Australia as well as an Victorian online database accessible to members of the public. These services may include PND support groups, playgroups, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and other support with experience working with families with perinatal depression and anxiety.
Community and health professional education
Through our community education program, trained volunteers use personal experiences to raise awareness of perinatal anxiety and depression. The program aims to encourage people to seek help early for mental health issues and break down stigma around perinatal mental health. Volunteers speak in forums such as playgroups and new mums’ groups. They also attend large public forums, such as the Pregnancy, Baby and Children Expo, which brings them into contact with thousands of people.
These volunteers also play an important role in educating health professionals such as midwives, child health nurses, psychologists and social workers. Sharing personal stories is a powerful way to share PANDA’s expertise within the health sector. PANDA also supports nurses through secondary consultation if they have concerns about supporting a family through perinatal anxiety and depression.
The organisation delivers training in perinatal mental health to playgroup and support group facilitators across Victoria. PANDA also supports maternal and child health staff in establishing and maintaining supported playgroups and support groups. PANDA’s role helps facilitators to identify and assist parents affected by perinatal anxiety and depression.