Tweddle World Mental Health Day

From Stress to Strength, removing Stigma for Parents on World Mental Health Day

From Stress to Strength, removing Stigma for Parents on World Mental Health Day

By Kerrie Gottliebsen

October 10th is World Mental Health Day. In 2017 Tweddle would like to encourage parents and carers to go from stress to strength by removing the stigma and reaching out for help.

Parenting is stressful at the best of times, but struggling with a mental illness as a mum or a dad with a baby or toddler can be additionally complex. It’s not only mums who experience postnatal depression and anxiety, but dads as well.

Tweddle Director of Nursing Kirsty Evans said that for some parents, hearing their baby or toddler crying or learning to adjust to the additional demands of parenting can trigger past experiences and traumas. Help however is available, but the stigma of being diagnosed with a mental illness can prevent some parents from seeking the help they need.

“Combine lack of sleep, impacts on the couple relationship, financial stress and the difficult transition to parenting, and it’s not surprising that mental health will effect some parents whether it be anxiety, depression or ongoing stress” said Ms Evans

Tweddle works with parents to seek support for their mental health challenges which can impact secure attachment, linked to a child’s developmental outcomes later in life such as empathy, self reliance and social skills.

Secure attachment is defined by a sense of security in infants whose caregivers respond to their distress in a consistent, caring and timely manner.

“When parents are stressed and impacted by mental ill health, they need help to find calm which then helps babies and toddlers to feel secure. Tweddle Clinicians share programs like the Circle Of Security’s ‘Shark Music’ video with families to help them identify triggers. It’s really important that mums and dads seek support if they need help connecting and engaging with their babies and young children”.

The World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH) recently released a position paper on the rights of infants to highlight the unique needs of babies and toddlers to those of older children when it came to childhood mental health.

“We know how mental health challenges appear in adults, but not many people know how they appear in a baby or toddler. But just because you can’t see them or decipher them, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there” said Ms Evans.

“What we know is that you have a very powerful window of opportunity to help the parents understand their challenges and empower them to change the future for their child by learning to connect. Sometimes you are dealing with parents who haven’t experienced a positive parenting role model and need the practical skills and encouragement to start again”.

“Tweddle has been working with the last three generations of Victorians – gaining 95 years of expertise of early life, parenting and brain development” said Ms Evans. “Infant mental health starts with mentally well parents. For many that means accessing early intervention and prevention parenting support programs like Tweddle’s”

If you need support, call:

Tweddle Child & Family Health Service (for parents of children 0-4) 03) 9689 1577

Victorian Maternal and Child Health Line — 132 229

Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) — 1300 726 306

Lifeline — 131 114

BeyondBlue  1300 22 4636

pexels-photo-225744 baby holding finger
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