Mental health support for new parents

(L-R) NSW Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Dr Geoff Lee, Gidget Foundation CEO Arabella Gibson, Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor, Ramsay Australia CEO Carmel Monaghan, Gidget chairperson Kara Nicholls and Westmead Private Hospital CEO Mike Flatley

One in five new mums and one in 10 new dads in Australia each year are affected by perinatal anxiety, depression, or postnatal depression during pregnancy and early parenthood.

It’s a sobering statistic. But for parents in Western Sydney struggling with the early days of caring for their new baby and themselves, help is at hand with the opening of Gidget House at Westmead Private Hospital.

Gidget House recruits local psychologists and offers free, General Practitioner-referred, individual perinatal psychological counselling services.

Westmead Private Hospital CEO Mike Flatley said he was thrilled to be able to support expectant and new parents.

“It will be wonderful to provide an even stronger support network for families that need a helping hand.

“This free service will help local families who would otherwise struggle to pay for specialist perinatal counselling,” he said.

“The beginning of the parenting journey can be a vulnerable and isolating experience. The services provided through this partnership will help parents to build a support network, which is even more important if they are not surrounded by family.”

Gidget Foundation Australia CEO Arabella Gibson said the phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ was absolutely true.

“We want to ensure we are a community that is able to support parents. Mental health can be a complex and delicate issue among new parents, and this can make it hard to speak out,” she said.

“It’s wonderful to collaborate with the team at Westmead Private Hospital and we hope this new offering can provide a safe space and encourage expectant and new parents to seek help if they need it.”

Ms Gibson added it was “critical” for the Gidget Foundation to be able to expand and reach as many vulnerable families in need as possible.

“Year to date, we’ve increased our service provision by 122 percent to meet the needs of the Australian community,” she said.

“This is the second service in New South Wales offered through Ramsay Health Care, so it’s terrific to be able to grow our Gidget footprint at Ramsay hospitals across the country.

“Of course it is unfortunate that there is such a significant need for these services at all, but we are seeing enormous demand for perinatal mental health programs in the wider community and we must be there to support new parents as much as we can.”

Gidget was the nickname of a vibrant young Sydney mum who tragically took her own life while suffering from unrecognised postnatal depression. She hid her suffering even from her loving family and friends. They created the Gidget Foundation, determined that what happened to her would not happen to others.

Gidget Foundation Australia helps thousands of expectant parents and their families each year and provides psychological services to parents in need through its Gidget House face-to-face services, its Start Talking telehealth program, and Emotional Wellbeing antenatal screening programs conducted through participating hospitals.

The new Westmead service was launched by Bronnie Taylor, the NSW Minister for Mental Health, Women and Regional Youth.

“Caring for a newborn can be a stressful, lonely and overwhelming time,” she said.

“The staff at Gidget Foundation Australia are passionate about supporting families in their time of need and the work they do is vital in supporting our communities.”

Gidget Foundation Australia is a not-for-profit organisation, supported by the community, the corporate sector, the medical profession, the NSW and Commonwealth Governments, and the media.

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