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.
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.
PANDA Practice Tips: Asking questions
Provide information and resources
Manage your own responses to encourage sharing and honesty
Watch and listen
PANDA Practice tips: Watching and listening
Signs of hopelessness or possible suicide ideation
PANDA Practice tips: hopeless or possible suicidal ideation