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Why all new and expecting parents need to know about PANDA

Why all new and expecting parents need to know about PANDA

Recently I participated in a professional development day run by PANDA. PANDA are “Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia”, supporting women, men and families across Australia affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy and in the first year of parenthood.

The day spent with PANDA reinforced my resolve to spread the word to new and expecting parents about the valuable service they provide.

Despite still being spoken of in hushed tones, mental health concerns are common not only in the general population but especially in the pre and postnatal periods. The Australian statistics are sobering and illustrate why we need a coordinated approach to support mothers and families during the pre and postnatal period.
• 1 in 10 women and 1 in 20 men experience depression during pregnancy
• More than 1 in 7 mothers and up to 1 in 10 dads experience depression in the year following birth

The above statistics are unsurprising in the context of the demands of modern parenting, but what did surprise me were PANDA’s statistics on disclosure of mental health concerns by their callers to other health professionals.
• 56% had not disclosed to their GP
• 85% had not disclosed to their MCH nurse
• 90% had not disclosed to their midwife or obstetrician!

Discovering this certainly made myself and the other attendees reflect on how we can better facilitate disclosure with our own clients to ensure they are getting the support they need as early as possible.
PANDA offers a National telephone counselling service that provides support, information, counselling and referral to expecting and new mothers and fathers and their families and friends. In Victoria there’s also additional funding provided to PANDA to provide intensive care coordination if needed.

The consistent message I hear from people who have lived experience of perinatal anxiety or depression, is that they wished they had reached out for help earlier, rather than letting things get to crisis point. That’s the great thing about PANDA’s services, you don’t need to be unwell or have any formal diagnosis to access and benefit from their support. If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or just unsettled, a friendly voice can be just the thing you need to reset.

For plenty of helpful information on mental health during the pre and postnatal period, visit the PANDA website  https://www.panda.org.au and if you want to speak with someone supportive call their wonderful helpline 1300 726 306.

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Friday, 12 April 2024