What’s the Problem?
Our Current Situation
- There is not currently a lot of awareness about post-natal depression. The risk-factors, the symptoms and where to get help is not widely known. Many women go without diagnosis, and even when they are diagnosed, they don’t know where to go for help. At best, they might go to their GP and start on anti-depressants – but anti-depressants alone are not the cure for PND, and they are not for everyone.
- Presently, Maternal Mental Health will only get involved with a mother if she has moderate-severe post-natal depression. And even then, MMH resources are limited – sometimes they are so overwhelmed they literally close until they are able to catch up on the demand
- There is currently no one formally responsible for addressing mothers who have mild-moderate post-natal depression. It is expected that midwives or plunket nurses will pick up on it and refer to GP’s or that GP’s will pick up on it. However, it is completely at the discretion of the midwife and the plunket nurse whether or not she assessing for post-natal depression. Their primary role is to address the physical needs of mother and baby. Plunket in particular are not funded to address or assess any mental health issues. GP’s understanding and treatment of mental health issues varies widely. Some are very poor at dealing with mental health issues, others may diagnose a problem and treat with medication but that is the only help the mother might get
- There is no one actively involved in addressing those at-risk of PND in order to prevent it or reduce the severity of the condition
- Post-natal depression is not discussed openly. Mothers tend to hide their symptoms, ashamed of how they are feeling. There is often a belief amongst mothers that a “good mother” is seen to be coping well. So in addition a new mother’s radical adjustment to what can be a very isolating role, a mother experiencing post-natal depression is likely to also feel especially isolated, guilty and ashamed
What this means
The effects of Postnatal Depression are wide-reaching. They affect the mother, the partner, the child and the wider family. In addition to a mother often suffering in isolation and often without information, resources, understanding or help, PND can have a ripple effect. Significantly:
- Breakdown in marriage/relationship
- Family conflict
- Interruption of attachment between mother and child. Studies show that when a child is exposed to conflict in the home and/or attachment issues with the child’s mother, a range of issues can result as an older child or young adult including drug/alcohol addiction, learning difficulties, mental illness, suicide and delinquency
It is important to note that if a mother’s Postnatal Depression becomes severe, the only facility she is likely to be admitted to is a psychiatric ward where she will be separated from her child for the duration of her stay. If it is deemed that she is unable to care for her child safely, CYFS may intervene to provide respite or long-term care. These two scenarios Mothers Helpers wants to prevent by providing sufficient support because we don’t believe this is ultimately in the best interest of the Mother, child and family.
Please join us in creating awareness and supporting mothers at-risk of post-natal depression and helping those who have it to recover quickly and more fully: