Beyond Feeling Overwhelmed: A Guide to Perinatal Mental Health Support

Beyond Feeling Overwhelmed: A Guide to Perinatal Mental Health Support

The journey of pregnancy and early parenthood is a whirlwind of emotions. It’s a time of immense joy and love, but it can also be incredibly overwhelming. For many new and expecting parents, this overwhelming feeling can turn into anxiety or depression.

The good news? You’re absolutely not alone.

Perinatal mental health issues, encompassing conditions like anxiety and depression that occur during pregnancy and the first year postpartum, are incredibly common. Studies suggest that up to one in five women experience perinatal mental health challenges, and fathers are also susceptible with one in ten new or expectant Aussie fathers experiencing depression after the birth of a child.

Why Does Perinatal Mental Health Matter?

Perinatal mental health can have a significant impact on both parents and babies. When left untreated, anxiety and depression can make it difficult to bond with your child, cope with daily tasks, and manage the stresses of parenthood.

The important takeaway? Seeking help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength and a commitment to your own well-being and the well-being of your child.

Finding Support: A Combination of Online Resources and Professional Care

Fortunately, there’s a range of fantastic resources available to support perinatal mental health, from websites and apps to SMS support and online therapy services. These can be a great first step, offering information, self-help tools, and even treatment programs specifically designed for perinatal anxiety and depression. This can be especially helpful in overcoming barriers like stigma, wait lists, geography, reluctance to seek help, and cost.

Remember, the key is finding a combination of support that works best for you. Here’s a breakdown of some options:

Beyond Feeling Overwhelmed: A Guide to Perinatal Mental Health Support

Online Resources:

  • MumSpace: This Australian website, by the Perinatal Depression e-Consortium (PDeC), led by the Parent-Infant Research Institute (PIRI), is a one-stop shop for perinatal mental health information. MumSpace offers evidence-based resources, self-help tools, and even free online treatment programs specifically designed for perinatal anxiety and depression.
  • DadSpace: [DadSpace] is a website dedicated to supporting the mental, emotional, and practical needs of expecting and new fathers across Australia. It offers a variety of tools and resources specifically designed for dads, including information, strategies, tips, and a new online treatment program called DadBooster.
  • Beyond Blue: [Beyond Blue] is a fantastic Australian resource for mental health information and support in general. While not exclusively focused on perinatal mental health, Beyond Blue offers valuable information, online tools, and a 24/7 support service.
Beyond Feeling Overwhelmed: A Guide to Perinatal Mental Health Support

Support Services:

  • PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia): PANDA offers a national helpline staffed by trained counsellors who can provide confidential support and information. Find someone to talk to today, Monday to Saturday  (1300 726 306). PANDA also has information, articles and stories to help you manage your mental health and wellbeing after your baby’s arrival.
  • Gidget Foundation Australia: A not-for-profit organisation that exists to support the emotional wellbeing of expectant and new parents to ensure they receive timely, appropriate and specialist care. Services include: face to face, telehealth and online support.
  • SMS4Dads: This free text message support program specifically designed for dads and dads-to-be. It goes beyond just information delivery; it provides ongoing support, encouragement, and even connects dads with professional help if needed.
  • Therapists and Counsellors: Many therapists specialise in perinatal mental health and can provide personalised support in managing anxiety, depression, and other challenges. You can find qualified psychologists in your area through the Australian Psychological Society’s Find a Psychologist service. National helplines are also available.
  • Support Groups: Connecting with other parents who are facing similar challenges can be incredibly helpful. Look for local support groups or online communities focused on perinatal mental health.
Beyond Feeling Overwhelmed: A Guide to Perinatal Mental Health Support

Taking the First Step:

If you’re struggling with feelings of anxiety, depression, or overwhelm during pregnancy or postpartum, the most important step is to reach out for help. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Be Kind to Yourself: Remember, you’re not alone. Perinatal mental health challenges are common, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  • Talk with Friends or Family: Consider talking about how you are feeling with someone you trust, like a friend or family member. Sharing your experiences can be incredibly helpful, and you might be surprised at how many others have had similar struggles. Their support can be a powerful resource.
  • Your Doctor or Midwife: They are a crucial point of contact. Your doctor or midwife can offer compassionate support, screen you for perinatal mental health conditions, and develop a personalised care plan that may include ongoing monitoring, referrals to specialists (therapists, counsellors, psychiatrists), and connection to resources like the free MumMoodBooster programs.
Beyond Feeling Overwhelmed: A Guide to Perinatal Mental Health Support

No shame in seeking help

Perinatal mental health challenges are common, and there is no shame in seeking help. With the right combination of online resources and professional care, you and your partner can find strength, manage your emotions, and navigate this incredible journey with confidence.

Please note: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your mental health.

Get Help Now

If you are having suicidal thoughts or are feeling disoriented, it’s important to get help immediately. If you need immediate support, call Lifeline 13 11 14 (24/7).

Emergency Services

Call 000 for Police and Ambulance if you or someone else are in immediate danger.

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