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How is NZ faring? Mothers Helpers release latest survey

Founder of PND-support charity Mothers Helpers, Kristina Paterson, released new survey results on World Maternal Mental Health Day - showing that there has been no improvement in the last 5 years in screening women for depression/anxiety perinatally so there are still significant delays in diagnosis and treatment.

A new survey released today (World Maternal Mental Health Day) by the charity 'Mothers Helpers' has shown that New Zealand has made very little progress when it comes to screening, identifying and treating women for Perinatal* Depression/Anxiety.

Mothers Helpers recent survey results showed that more than two-thirds of women were experiencing delays in diagnosis and treatment for Perinatal Depression/Anxiety - a nominal improvement from the three-quarters of women experiencing delays in the 2015 survey.

"What is most concerning is that more than 60% of women are saying they weren't even screened or assessed for depression/anxiety during pregnancy, and more than 40% weren't screened or assessed postnatally despite 99% of them possessing risk-factors" says Founder of the Mothers Helpers charity Kristina Paterson. "Worse still is that more than 80% were not informed by their midwife or childbirth educator about Antenatal Depression/Anxiety."

1 in 8 women will experience depression/anxiety during pregnancy in New Zealand and 1 in 5 postnatally.

"Suicide is the leading cause of maternal deaths in New Zealand is suicide, yet we are still not screening and assessing for depression and anxiety perinatally."

Paterson says that early detection and treatment of depression improves outcomes: "The longer the delay, the greater the impact on mother and child - putting baby at greater risk of developing emotional, behavioural, cognitive issues and higher risk of learning difficulties, mental health issues, addictions, delinquency and suicide. This ends up costing the Government far more down the track than it ever would if sufficient services were in place for mum's mental health early on."

Ms Paterson speaks from experience, having suffered untreated antenatal depression followed by postnatal depression after the birth of her son ten years ago: “Since experiencing delayed diagnosis and treatment myself, I have been determined that other women would not have to experience the same kind of impact it has had on me and my family. I am absolutely disheartened to see that we have made virtually no progress since then and the gaps have remained the same."

Mothers Helpers has been running effective 10-week recovery programmes for mothers with Perinatal Depression and Anxiety without any Government funding: “We're finding that most of the mothers who have gone through our course have either fully recovered or they've significantly improved and continue to improve, but the service we're able to deliver is a drop in the bucket when we consider that 11,000 women are experiencing perinatal depression and anxiety every year."

In 2017 Ms Paterson took a petition to Parliament with specific requests to address the gaps in Maternal Mental Health and it was received by the (now) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and (now) Minister of Health David Clark. Ms Paterson is appealing to the Government to not allow these gaps to continue with the response to the Mental Health report now imminent.

If you would like to raise awareness for Perinatal Depression during World Maternal Mental Health week, please join Mothers Helpers on their Awareness Walk at 9am, Cornwall Park, Auckland on Saturday 4th May - register here:

For more information or help, or if you would like to get involved, contact Mothers Helpers:

Phone: 0800 002 717 or 022 093 1822

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