Parental mental health organisation Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia has reported a 51 per cent increase in calls to its national helpline in the past 12 months.
Nationally, one in five new mums and one in 10 new dads experience perinatal depression or anxiety, or approximately 100,000 Australian parents each year.
PANDA is commending the increase in demand, saying it is a positive sign that less parents are trying to manage alone.
Chief executive Julie Borninkhof said they were proud families were reaching out for help earlier and making their parenting the best it could be in struggling times.
“We have heard from many mums and dads that having less support available has put pressure on families facing isolation, home schooling and separation from loved ones,” she said.
Fifty-seven per cent of 40,000 callers in the 2020-21 period had cited stressful life events, which included the COVID-19 pandemic, as among the reasons for asking for help.
Ninety-two per cent of callers in this period have been women, 75 per cent are pregnant with second and third children and 26 per cent of callers have a baby less than one month old.
“We have also seen more discussion about mental wellness and looking after yourself which has helped mums and dads recognise they may need help – and that’s a good thing.”
The news comes in time for Perinatal Mental Health Week, which started on November 7 and urges parents to be mindful of mental wellbeing, both for themselves and their loved ones.
“Whether they have reached out to their partners, family, GP or PANDA, they have started to break down one of the biggest barriers in seeking help early,” Ms Borninkhof said.
PANDA cites five barriers against parents seeking help; language, lack of perinatal mental health issue awareness, lack of support, fear of judgement and lack of healthcare professional access.
Operating for more than 35 years, PANDA helps new and expecting parents with mental health and wellbeing issues via a national helpline and online resources in over 40 languages.
Any parent struggling with pregnancy or after childbirth can visit PANDA’s website at panda.org.au for online resources or call their helpline at 1300 726 306 (open 9am to 7.30pm).