PANDA Week 2018 media release
New online tool to battle perinatal anxiety and depression
Becoming a parent can be a beautiful time, but behind closed doors expecting and new parents
can feel like a failure, alone and misunderstood. Anxiety and depression during the perinatal period (during pregnancy and in the first year after birth) can be misinterpreted as the “baby blues”, leaving parents to believe that distress is their new normal.
During Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Awareness (PANDA) Week (11 – 17 November), PANDA is launching a brand new online tool for expecting and new parents and their loved ones, who are worried about their mental health.
“PANDA’s Mental Health Checklist for Expecting and New Parents is a unique and much-needed online and anonymous tool that allows expecting and new parents who are worried about their mental health to assess their emotional wellbeing,” says PANDA CEO Terri Smith.
“The answers it provides can also help these individuals and their loved ones discuss their mental health with their health professionals.”
New research carried out by PANDA in the lead up to PANDA Week highlights the many challenges faced by expecting and new parents.
The research found:
- One in two parents who experienced perinatal anxiety or depression felt pressure to pretend everything was fine and almost half felt no one else understood.
- 92% of Australians wish they had done more to help someone experiencing perinatal anxiety or depression.
- 90% of parents with young children believe more needs to be done to monitor the mental health of expecting and new parents.
The research found that 44% of parents who experienced perinatal anxiety or depression felt like no one else understood and one in two felt pressure to pretend they were fine, even while emotionally struggling. In contrast, a staggering 92% of Australians wished they had done more to help someone they knew who experienced perinatal anxiety or depression.
While over half (59%) of Australians believe that people struggle to talk about their mental health
issues because they feel like a failure, almost half (45%) of callers to PANDA’s National Helpline are waiting more than double the recommended two weeks before seeking help.
An astounding 90% of Australian parents with young children believe that the mental health of expecting and new parents needs to be monitored more closely. With the right support, new and expecting and new parents can recover from perinatal anxiety and depression and go on to enjoy parenthood.
Left untreated, however, this illness can have devastating consequences for individuals and families. It can even put lives at risk.
PANDA’s new Checklist is accessible and user friendly and its content has been created with direct input from people who have experienced mental health difficulties as expecting or new parents.
“We know many expecting and new parents worried about the way they are feeling find it difficult to talk about their concerns with health professionals like doctors, midwives and child and family health nurses,” says Ms Smith.
“Many health professionals also lack the knowledge and confidence to know how to talk with
expecting and new parents about their mental health. Many aren’t able to pick up on the signs of emotional distress, ask the right questions to encourage people to share their feelings or really know how to address their concerns and set them on the path to getting better.”
The Checklist asks questions about changes expecting and new parents have noticed since starting the journey to becoming a parent – in their body and behaviour; in their thoughts and feelings; and in their relationships.
Completing the Checklist creates a Results page that gives users an indication whether what they are experiencing or observing in a loved one could be a reason to seek help.
For more information, or to arrange interviews or photographs, please contact David Sutherland on 03 9926 9010 or 0405 354 343
You can access PANDA’s Mental Health Checklist for Expecting and New Parents here