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Parents keep quiet about mental health with their doctor

Less than one in five parents say they would speak to a health professional to help maintain good emotional wellbeing according to a YouGov Galaxy survey released today by St John of God Health Care.

St John of God Burwood Hospital fellowship research 

9 November 2018 

The results, released as a part of Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Awareness (PANDA) Week, showed only 19 per cent of Australian parents considered that speaking to a health professional was helpful in maintaining good emotional wellbeing during pregnancy and early parenthood.

St John of God Health Care Perinatal Mental Health Psychiatrist Professor Marie-Paule Austin said this was concerning as it could result in some parents not getting the help they needed.

“Having a baby is exciting but it comes with many challenges such as a lack of sleep, changing priorities and stress which all impact on emotional wellbeing,” she said.

“While there are many things we can do in our daily lives to maintain good emotional wellbeing such as sleeping, and diet and exercise, speaking about your emotional health with doctors or other health professionals should be a core part of maintaining good mental health.”

While data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Patient Experience Survey (2017) shows about 80 per cent of people see their GP each year, this latest research suggests parents are not speaking up when it comes to their emotional wellbeing.

"Patients often have long-term relationships with their GP and are often the first health professional patients seek out when something is not right,” Professor Austin said.

“I would encourage any parent who is struggling to speak to their GP who can refer them on for specialised care and advice as required.

“This help and support may include community care through services such as St John of God Raphael Services, which provide low or no cost perinatal mental health support for mums and families, or in hospital care such at St John of God Burwood Hospital’s Mother and Baby Unit.”