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Help PANDA’s ACT Community Champion support new parents

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While this year has been challenging for everyone, new parents, carers and their families have been left feeling especially isolated.

Many have missed out on the typical support services experienced by parents-to-be or new parents such as antenatal education classes, physical access to healthcare providers, new parents’ groups or even being able to introduce their newborn to loved ones.

Canberra local Antonette Gaffney joined PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia) as a Community Champion in early 2019 after experiencing crippling anxiety and depression during her pregnancy.

“I didn’t even know you could ‘get’ anxiety and depression during pregnancy,” says Antonette. “I thought, ‘isn’t this supposed to be the easy part’? You hear much more about postnatal depression, but no one really talks about getting it before birth.”

Through a referral from a friend to reach out to PANDA, Antonette learnt that 1 in 5 women experience depression during pregnancy (antenatal depression) with 1 in 7 women—and 1 in 10 dads—experience postnatal depression.

She also gained access to the range of PANDA’s free services—including a helpline (Australia’s only dedicated helpline for women, men and their families affected by perinatal* anxiety and depression), an anonymous mental health checklist and a large range of online resources, including information on support services in your local area.

Antonette Gaffney with her 18 month-old son, James.

PANDA’s work is ever more critical in the current environment, with PANDA’s CEO, Julie Borninkhof reporting a heightened number of calls to the national helpline.

“Since the start of the pandemic, PANDA’s National Helpline has seen a 20% increase in calls. This has added a strain to our specialty services which were already in great demand.”

It is for this reason that Antonette has launched a GoFundMe campaign, seeking to raise at least $1,500 for PANDA.

“I want to help ensure PANDA’s support services remain accessible and free to others who are feeling vulnerable, helpless and isolated—particularly for those people trying to navigate new parenthood in the current COVID-19 environment,” says Antonette.

“It’s important for them to know that help is available. It’s not a ‘failure’ to struggle—there are people who care and help is a phone call away.”

You can donate to Antonette’s GoFundMe campaign at gofundme.com/f/panda-week-2020

* perinatal: includes the pre and post-birth period

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