- PANDA's impact in 2020
PANDA's impact in 2020
In an extraordinary year, PANDA was able to continue to meet increased demand to support expecting and new parents affected by mental health challenges
PANDA’s National Perinatal Mental Health Helpline
The Commonwealth funded PANDA Helpline delivered 16,500 successful contacts with callers, their families and supports across the 2020 calendar year (5,000 more than last year).
We also delivered over 15,000 reach-out contacts nationally and 5,000 Intensive Care Coordination contacts to people in Victoria and South Australia. That’s over 36,500 contacts delivered across the country!
Many of our callers told us they were really struggling with concerns for their health or the health of their baby, and with all the other worries caused by COVID-19, including financial pressures and not being able to access many of the usual supports available to expecting and new parents. The percentage of callers with severe or acute need also increased during the pandemic.
We have worked hard to build new content and online supports. Since its launch in October 2018, our free online Mental Health Checklist for Expecting and New Parents has been completed by 55,753 individuals, including more than 25,000 in 2020. This compares to 18,372 in 2019.
PANDA’s main website panda.org.au has been visited by 249,776 unique visitors during 2020 (up from 200,688 in 2019), including 67,000 international visitors. Our large range of digital resources was downloaded 18,186 times across the year.
PANDA’s Survive & Thrive Podcast
We were excited to launch PANDA's new podcast for expecting and new parents: Survive and Thrive in December. Generously funded by the NSW/ACT PHN Mental Health Network, Survive and Thrive explores some of the feelings and changes that come with parenthood that maybe don’t get talked about enough.
Every episode features a conversation with a parent who has real experiences to share, and practical tips that they’ve learned from coming out the other side. The podcasts won’t focus on perinatal mental illness, but are really just accessible information about managing emotional and mental wellbeing with a focus on stories rather than clinical information, including bonus content with wellbeing tools and strategies.
PANDA’s Learning Hub
We launched the PANDA Learning Hub, a web based source of training and education content related to perinatal mental health for health professionals, and for expecting and new parents to find out more about the complex parenting journey. Partly funded by the Priceline Sisterhood Foundation, the Hub enables the team at PANDA to share the stories and experiences of our community members who have lived with perinatal mental illness while also showcasing evidence based approaches and integrated pathways to support perinatal mental health training for health professionals.
The Learning Hub also enables us to ensure that core training is recorded and accessible for those unable to attend our face-to-face events, meaning more people can access content and build their skills.
Information and resources
While our capacity to distribute hard copy resources was heavily restricted during 2020 due to staff working offsite, we still managed to respond to around 2,000 orders and distribute over 90,000 health promotion resources to our partners working with families in every state and territory across the country. This is in addition to the more than 18,000 digital resources downloaded from our website across the year.
During 2020 we also developed several new key resources to support expecting and new parents to manage their mental health, and for health professionals to provide more effective support to those who are struggling. This includes:
- resources for parents to manage anxiety related to COVID-19
- an animated video explaining why good enough parenting is great parenting
- a digital resource with six approaches for health professionals to support expecting and new parents struggling with their mental health
- resources to assist expecting and new parents struggling with working from home during the pandemic, and
- role play videos to help care providers have effective conversations with families about perinatal mental health.
Training for health professionals
From March we took our training activities online in response to COVID-19, enabling us to deliver training to at least 2,645 health professionals around Australia including midwives, Child and Family Health/Maternal Child Health Nurses, GPs and mental health clinicians. Many of our webinars are now available online via the PANDA Learning Hub.
Training topics included helping healthcare providers better understand the different ways that the pandemic, border closures, lockdowns and other associated events affected the mental health of expecting and new parents. With many care providers switching to delivering care via telehealth, we also shared skills and insights from a decade supporting parents by phone on the PANDA Helpline, alongside the lived experience of our peer education volunteers.
In late September 2020, we launched our PANDA Clinical Champions network to complement the work of our Community Champions. In only three days we had over 180 clinicians from a range of professional fields register, with around 220 now on board. 21 Clinical Champions reviewed and informed our new health professional tool, which was launched during PANDA Week 2020.
This has led to around 560 individuals with personal and clinical “lived” experience of perinatal mental illness informing our work and amplifying the experience of perinatal mental illness.
In 2020, despite quite a few volunteers taking a break due to the stresses of COVID-19, the Community Champions program increased to 338 active volunteers. Advocacy and contributing to systemic change were a large focus this year, including six Champions who formed a special perinatal mental health working group for the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health. We also had two Champions who participated in a working group developing parent-friendly policies and practices for the upcoming NSW public Mother and Baby Units (MBUs).
Our Community Champions helped us raise $25,000 over PANDA Week which was then matched by Baby Bunting. Community Champions also were heavily involved with our key corporate supporter the Priceline Sisterhood Foundation, from walking the Priceline Sisterhood Foundation Beauty Runway at Melbourne Fashion Week to being interviewed by Chrissie Swan for a video campaign.
It’s been a big year of media, story-sharing and community awareness-raising as well – it’s a testament to the resilience and creativity of Community Champions, particularly in areas heavily impacted by restrictions, that many activities still went ahead.
In the news
In a year when many expecting and new parents across Australia felt disconnected and anxious, it was more important than ever that those who are struggling with their mental health could hear information and stories through the media so they know they’re not alone. During 2020 PANDA featured in 504 media stories (that we know of), with 453 of those occurring around PANDA Week.
PANDA’s social media community has been growing steadily over the past few years. We now have 21,559 followers on Facebook, up from 16,614 in December 2019. On Instagram, we now have 13,100 followers, up from 7,600 in December 2019. During 2020 we wanted any expecting and new families feeling isolated and anxious who were engaging with our social media content to know they were not alone, and that help was available. We therefore focussed strongly on directing our community to the content they needed.
This year we had 26,643 direct referrals to our website resources from our social media platforms, up from 19,362 last year. This is almost 27,000 people scrolling through their social platforms seeking answers to what they are feeling, and being directed exactly where they need to go to start finding those answers. We also had 28,600 people liking or sharing our content, clicking on links or watching our videos.
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