Mums reach to digital solutions for emotional wellbeing support
Having support at hand can be crucial for new mums experiencing the highs and lows of parenting for the first time.
By Judith Ngai
For many new parents, the excitement of starting a family can quickly become overshadowed by the with sleepless nights, changing relationships and the constant demands of a newborn. In 2020, the COVID-19 lockdowns made for an even more challenging experience.
Over the past year we all adapted to new ways of living and reached to our phones and devices to keep us entertained, informed and for support. This was especially important for many of those starting a family without their usual supports around them.
With up to one in five expecting or new mums suffering from perinatal anxiety and depression, national support group Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) saw calls to its hotline increase by 113 per cent in 2020.
Bupa’s mummatters digital platform, designed by experts to provide emotional wellbeing support for new mums, saw a similar increase during the initial months of lockdowns where time spent on the platform doubled.
The good news is that these figures suggest mums are seeking out help, rather than going it alone.
Recent Australian research by experts who helped design mummatters found that stigma and normalising symptoms are still key barriers to women seeking help for perinatal depression and anxiety.*
The aim of mummatters is to address these by barriers by helping to increase women’s awareness of their own symptoms or risk factors for perinatal depression. The tool also encourages them to take positive steps to look after their emotional wellbeing as well as acting as a gateway to resources where they can get professional advice and support.
More than 90 percent of mummatters users completed a mental health screening survey that helps them to understand whether they are experiencing any symptoms of perinatal depression. Up to two-thirds of people using the platform report experiencing symptoms of depression in the past month, and encouragingly, more than half of those tell us they’ve since sought professional health advice.
While for some women, accessing mummatters is the starting point to getting the professional support they need, for others like Amy Newman, it’s more about reassurance.
Amy gave birth to her second child in early 2020 and said that the hardest thing about this time was the uncertainty that COVID-19 brought.
“There’s so many moments where you need support. I have days when I’m totally fine and other days when I’m totally overwhelmed by it.
“I found it mummatters really useful when a problem came up. It was really important this year because some of that support wasn’t available elsewhere. It gave me a bit of confidence some days just to know that what I was doing was ok,” Amy said.