As we were reminded in Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week (Nov 11-17 2018), depression and anxiety conditions are common, with up to one in five women experiencing anxiety and one in ten women experiencing depression in pregnancy, and rising to affect one in seven postnatal women.
The impacts of perinatal depression and anxiety are exacerbated by the fact that women are not seeking help early. COPE research conducted with over 1,200 women who have experienced perinatal anxiety and depression reveals that almost three in four women (74%) did not seek help until they reached crisis point.
COPE research also reveals that there is a range of reasons for delayed help-seeking. Both men and women describe that they often denied the symptoms they were experiencing and hoped symptoms would subside on their own with time, and hence no support or treatment was sought.
Stigma is also preventing early help-seeking. Women often do not seek support for fear of how they may be viewed or judged by others—including family, friends, colleagues and even health professionals.
Dr Nicole Highet, Founder and Executive Director of COPE: Centre of Perinatal Excellence states:
The workplace offers a valuable opportunity to provide expectant and new parents with timely, quality information about the range of challenges that they may face in the transition and adjustment to parenthood—particularly amongst those who may be at increased risk of developing mental health conditions in the perinatal period.’
To support expectant and new mothers, COPE has developed Ready to COPE. This is a free, fortnightly email that provides women with valuable knowledge and insights from six weeks into their pregnancy right up to their child’s first birthday. Women can simply sign up at www.readytocope.org.au.
Organisations can also take a proactive approach by ensuring their staff have knowledge and access to the information and resources provided for organisations via the COPE website.
A version for dads is also currently under development and will be available in early 2019.
Written by COPE: Centre of Perinatal Excellence.