A wise man once said, “Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements…
Described by some as a dark, bleak and horrible place, perinatal depression or anxiety can be debilitating. Compounded by the new responsibilities of a needy and noisy baby, many mums, along with their partners, suffer serious and sometimes life-threatening emotions and thoughts.
That’s why PANDSI –Post and Ante Natal Depression Support and Information Inc. – is such a vital service to help women and their families break through the fog.
“I’ve had antenatal and postnatal depression,” says Christine Spicer, newly elected president of PANDSI. “During that time I didn’t have a health professional suggest I contact PANDSI. I found out about them on the internet, but didn’t have the courage to get in contact.”
Christine’s personal struggle and eventual recovery drove her to volunteer for PANDSI late in 2012 to ensure other families may know the work of PANDSI and feel the courage to do what she didn’t: to get support if they need it, when they need it.
“Being on the board and attending events has made me realise just how much PANDSI’s assistance would have meant to me during those times,” Christine reflects. “PANDSI allows parents to talk openly about their feelings, with no judgement, which is such a powerful way to know that you are not alone.”
As any parent knows, raising children is one of life’s toughest jobs. Yet overwhelming emotions that are negatively affecting day-to-day living may in fact be perinatal (post or antenatal) depression or anxiety. And postnatal depression alone can affect up to 16 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men – usually within the first year after birth of a child.
“Have a chat to your GP and give PANDSI a call or send them an email if that’s easier for you,” Christine recommends. “If you feel like things are not right and even if you just need to chat and ask questions, PANDSI is here for you.
“You are doing the right thing for your family by getting support. No matter what you’re thinking about your situation, you are not alone and there are people there to help you – what’s vital is that you make contact.”
It is important advice for both those struggling and for partners, family and friends.
“Having a partner or family member go through postnatal depression has a far-reaching affect,” explains Christine. “Because there is still a stigma around mental health, often people can feel alone. The more we talk about mental health issues, and share our stories the easier it will become for those experiencing antenatal and postnatal depression to seek help.”
PANDSI offers a full range of services including support groups, a confidential telephone line, exercise and yoga groups, playgroups, and information sessions for partners or family members of those affected by perinatal depression and anxiety.
“It’s vital that family and partners get support for themselves, as well as for their loved one,” says Christine.
As Christine steps into the big shoes of outgoing PANDSI president, Dr Marian Currie, who provided 13 years of leadership, time and passion, her goal is to raise greater awareness of the support PANDSI can provide, so others know the help is available.
“My goal is to get businesses to feel proud to support PANDSI. When Canberrans choose to raise money for a cause, I want it to be PANDSI. There are so many more services that PANDSI could offer, if more money was available,” explains Christine.
“Although we receive funding from ACT Health to deliver services five days a week, there is a waiting list and our funding doesn’t allow us to do everything we know the Canberra community would like from us.
“In 2014, PANDSI received some funding to deliver a bonding and attachment group, which included infant massage. The feedback from the group was overwhelmingly positive, yet it’s such a shame that more mums can’t experience this group because more funding was not forthcoming.
“Donations could make this group available, provide extra child care staff, create new programs and offer additional services,” Christine says.
With ongoing support from the community, PANDSI can provide timely and innovative strategies and support to families facing perinatal depression and anxiety, and ultimately put mums and dads on the path to wellness.
So please share the work of PANDSI with family and friends and donate once or make a regular contribution.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with perinatal depression or anxiety, the first step is as simple as a phone call to PANDSI.
PANDSI provide support, education, information and referral services for families in Canberra experiencing perinatal depression or anxiety. Phone 6288 1936, email email@example.com or visit www.pandsi.org
Donate today at Give Now.
A Farewell Note to Marian
When Dr Marian Currie began as President of PANDSI in 2001, she hoped the organisation would become a widely recognised hub for women, families and professionals seeking help, information, support and advice for, and about, perinatal mental health issues.
During her tenure, Marian did just this, creating a viable and vibrant, well-recognised organisation with excellent and fully committed staff. PANDSI has grown and prospered, and demonstrated proven results.
“Amazing, awe-inspiring, brave women have always stepped up to put a very human face on the experience of perinatal mental health disorders and their impact on families,” says Marian. “They have always said PANDSI was instrumental in their recovery.”
According to Marian, her greatest interest at PANDSI was being able to influence more than one generation – by rescuing relationships between mums and dads, as well as between mums and their children.
Next up for Marian are some travels to South America and the Galapagos, academic teaching and a hope to inspire, and be inspired by, young people beginning their careers.
Thank you Marian.
Feature images courtesy of Shutterstock.