Anxiety and depression are common during pregnancy and early parenthood across all cultural and socio-economic communities. Getting the right help early will lead to a faster recovery. Yet too often, expecting and new parents don’t seek help when they are struggling. As a result, many suffer for longer than necessary.
The reasons that people don’t seek help are complex. Many don’t know that what they’re experiencing is a mental health issue – especially first-time parents. Stigma and social expectations are major barriers to seeking help. It can be hard to admit to sadness, agitation, anger or the other difficult feelings that can accompany perinatal anxiety and depression, if the expectations of those around you (and perhaps your own) are that new parenthood should be all joy and contentment.
PANDA community education sessions aim to:
- Raise awareness about emotional wellbeing and mental health amongst expecting and new parents
- Reduce stigma and encourage those who are struggling to seek help
- Open up supportive conversations within groups and communities.
In our sessions, we often discuss the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” – and that this means caring for both the children in our communities and for their parents and carers.
What do we do?
We deliver sessions in a range of community settings including new parents groups, playgroups and community events. Sessions are delivered primarily by PANDA peer educators: volunteers trained and supported by PANDA staff to share their own story of perinatal anxiety, depression and recovery to help others.
PANDA community education sessions usually include:
- Information about perinatal anxiety and depression, including signs and symptoms
- A personal story of perinatal anxiety, depression and recovery
- Information about support options (including local options and the PANDA National Helpline)
- An activity providing space for participants to open up about the challenges of early parenthood and mental health.
Our standard session is 60 minutes; sessions can be tailored to group needs.
At the core of PANDA’s community education program are our volunteers – all parents who have “been there”. Volunteer stories are a powerful way to break down stigma, connect on a human level and inspire participants to seek help if they, or someone they know, are struggling. These stories instil hope that recovery is possible.
Feedback from participants includes relief that, “I’m not the only one feeling this way”, including from many parents who do not have perinatal anxiety or depression, but who are finding new parenthood more challenging than expected.
Feedback from professionals includes an increase in openness and mutual support within their group, and increased disclosure of mental health concerns by participants; that, “I’m not the only one feeling this way”, including from many parents who do not have perinatal anxiety or depression, but who are finding new parenthood more challenging than expected.
What is your role as a host?
As the host of a community education session, your role is incredibly important to ensure that all participants have a fulfilling and safe experience.
We ask that you please read and save the following information on the role of a host:
Hosting health professionals/volunteers are expected to be present during sessions; they are invited to contribute and may need to provide follow up to participants. Therefore, if at any stage you find that you are not available for a session you have booked, we also ask that you ensure you have given this document to the person who is relieving you so that they are aware of their responsibilities as host.
Who can request a session?
Sessions can be requested by professionals or volunteers who run groups, classes, information sessions or events. Sessions are free, and are delivered mainly around metropolitan Melbourne, although we are building our capacity to deliver in regional and rural areas. Sessions are usually within working hours; contact us to discuss other requests. Where and when we can deliver is determined largely by volunteer availability.
For more information or to discuss your group’s needs, contact our Community Education and Training Coordinator, Sarah Marlowe at PANDA's national office on (03) 9926 9032 or firstname.lastname@example.org