Postnatal Depression Awareness Week 13-19 November
This week is Postnatal Depression (PND) Awareness Week (13-19 Nov). Postnatal depression, which might be more accurately
described as perinatal distress, affects around 1 in 5 mothers and around 1 in 6 dads. (The term perinatal distress is
more fitting because some new parents experience anxiety, sleeplessness and even panic attacks, rather than depression
and for some this begins in pregnancy, not just after the birth).
The recently formed Perinatal Mental Health NZ (PMHNZ) Trust is working across New Zealand to improve outcomes for
families and whanau affected by mental illness related to pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood.
Sonia Gray, actor, presenter and mother of twins, is the first ambassador of the organisation. “The birth of a new baby
is a magical time – but it can also be incredibly stressful and at times overwhelming” says Gray, “I struggled
emotionally for several months after the birth of my own twins. I am supporting the Perinatal Mental Health NZ Trust
because I now realise how common it is for both new mothers and new fathers to experience mental health problems that
are beyond ‘normal’. I feel very strongly that it is the role of the community to protect and support our families; in
doing so we are protecting our most precious resource - our young children”.
Rosie Smith, counsellor and chair of the new Trust is delighted with Gray’s appointment, and with the response so far.
“I am pleased to see the enthusiasm for a national network to link services and agencies around New Zealand, with
research and innovation nationally and internationally. Stigma still surrounds parental distress and mental illness. The
PND Awareness Week will be part of an ongoing strategy to take the shame out of perinatal mental illness by talking
about it openly in our communities and sharing what works."
PMHNZ is working with smaller, grass-roots community organisations throughout New Zealand to increase awareness of PND.
This is part of an effort to help create a positive social culture of encouragement, acceptance and support for new
parents and to raise awareness nationally of perinatal mental health issues. This week will see events organised by
local community organisations up and down the country as part of raising awareness about perinatal mental health issues.
Breastmates, the New Zealand on-line store have commissioned a special t-shirt for the PMHNZ Trust, 100% of the profits
from the sale of these items goes to the Trust.