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Encouraging people to share their experiences

“Every care conversation with every new and expecting parent needs to include two critical questions: Are you OK? Are you safe?”

Julie Borninkhof, PANDA CEO

Mum talking to doctor

Perinatal mental health screening is recommended in Australia, yet expecting and new parents may not always feel comfortable talking about their mental health and wellbeing concerns with a healthcare provider.

Common barriers to having an open and honest conversation include feelings of shame, fear of judgement, or fear of child removal.

Primary healthcare providers are key to addressing these barriers by providing a space of trust, care, and safety that encourages people to share their concerns, feelings, and experiences.

Callers to PANDA’s Helpline often share with us that they’ve been managing by themselves for weeks, or months, just wishing someone would ask how they’re feeling.

You can be the perinatal healthcare provider that does ask – then takes the time to listen and explore what might help someone feel less alone, and more supported.

Helpful Information

Pregnant mum with doctor
Secondary Consultation service: Support for health professionals
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How to talk about mental health challenges and encourage a conversation

Individuals and families you’re supporting may not know that you can provide mental health support, treatment and/or referral. You can begin a conversation by:

  • Explaining your role
  • Asking about wellbeing and safety during each contact (e.g. appointment, inpatient stay, home visit)
  • Encourage people to share by using normalising, non-judgmental language when information about perinatal mental health.
  • Use plain language when talking about perinatal mental health and wellbeing.

1

PANDA Practice Tips: Asking questions

2

Provide information and resources

3

Manage your own responses to encourage sharing and honesty

4

Watch and listen

5

PANDA Practice tips: Watching and listening

6

Signs of hopelessness or possible suicide ideation

7

PANDA Practice tips: hopeless or possible suicidal ideation

Download the tip sheet

Encouraging people to share their experiences
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“Listen for statements that suggest they’re having a hard time – I don’t know what I’m doing, I didn’t think it would be like this, I’m doing it wrong.”

– Robyn, Peer support team leader

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Everyone’s experience of pregnancy, birth and parenting is unique and brings different rewards and challenges. Our mental health checklist can help you to see if what you’re experiencing or observing in a loved one could be a reason to seek help.