Postnatal Depression Support Groups
Support groups are an enormously valuable form of support and treatment for women with perinatal depression and anxiety and their families. They provide an opportunity for women to come together in a safe and supportive environment for mutual support - sharing the lived experience of perinatal depression and anxiety. Most groups provide support to women and their families with postnatal depression. Some women talk of their postnatal depression support group as the only place that they can go where they do not have to cover up how they feel and are not judged for their depression. Sometimes friendships that are established among the participants can become lifelong relationships of mutual understanding and support.
Fathers and partners can also be supported through the support group program through sessions for couples and partners, for example evening sessions and social activities. Many partners benefit from meeting other partners and sharing experiences and solutions for the struggles they face in caring for the mother with perinatal depression and anxiety. The group also provides opportunities to learn about their own self care and how to stay well as a carer.
There are many different types of support groups. Some are facilitated by health care professionals, others by people who have recovered from postnatal depression. There are some support groups that are ongoing and new members can join at any time (open group) while others run for a certain number of weeks (eg 10 weeks) and there are no new additions to the group after the first couple of weeks (closed group).
Some support groups are very flexible in the way they are run. Others can be very structured with a set therapeutic program based on cognitive behavioural therapy or psychotherapy. Most groups provide opportunities for the participants to learn about postnatal depression, learning to be a mother, parenting, emotional and relationship skills as well as the support to go through the recovery process. This is provided by facilitators with a degree of expert knowledge and between the participants who share their lived experiences with each other.
Support groups do not suit all women with postnatal depression as not everyone is comfortable in a group setting. There are other forms of support such as individual counselling.
Supported Postnatal Depression Playgroups
A supported postnatal depression playgroup is run the same as most community playgroups, with a formal playgroup structure through the state playgroup association. The unique difference is that a supported playgroup requires some degree of support from a worker or agency to support the members of the playgroup, to liaise with the playgroup association and to have a presence in the group.
It is an ideal form of ongoing support for women with postnatal depression who have finished in a postnatal depression support group and who would benefit from the opportunity to share play activities and learning experiences that support their relationship and parenting skills with their children.
Supported postnatal depression playgroups help participantsto make new friends as well as providing the opportunity for them to meet in a non-judgmental and supportive environment to share their experiences with the support and facilitation provided by a support worker.