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New data reveals demand for mental health support rises

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New insights from Gidget Foundation Australia (GFA) reveal over 3,000 expectant and new parents accessed more than 19,000 of their free psychological counselling sessions in 2023.  

A staggering 30% increase in clients seen since 2022 and a whopping 132% increase since 2020. 

An additional 2,168 parents have utilised these services so far in 2024, via a combination of face-to-face and telehealth appointments. 

Despite the increase in people accessing support services, new data commissioned by GFA finds more than half (57%) of expectant and new parents have experienced perinatal mental health symptoms, yet only two in five (40%) of these have sought professional help. 

The data sadly demonstrates that there is still a growing and potentially unmet need for support. Barriers to seeking mental health support services may include a fear of stigma, living in regional or rural areas and cultural expectations. 

Gidget Angel and mum-of-three, Lisa Carrick, know first-hand the positive impact that GFA’s services has on the community. Lisa received a referral to her local Gidget House after confiding in her GP that she was experiencing panic attacks and thoughts of self-harm during her last pregnancy. 

“I was convinced my family would have been better off without me.” 

“After that, I saw my GP and I let everything out.  

“The tears would not stop, as hard as I tried. She was very concerned and referred me to Gidget House in Shellharbour,” added Carrick. 

 She highlighted that she is forever grateful for my amazing circle of support, and knows others aren’t so lucky.  

“After opening up to those around me, I was blown away by the number of those who also said they struggled with their mental health after giving birth.” 

Over the past four years, the number of parents who have sought help from GFA each year has nearly tripled (1,309 to 3,037), and the number of Gidget Houses across the country has more than doubled (12 to 32). With 32 face-to-face locations currently operating across the country, GFA hopes to increase their network to 40 total locations nationally by 2027. 

Gidget Foundation CEO, Arabella Gibson, says it can cost up to $3,000 for a family’s complete care over 12 months, which includes up to 10 individual counselling sessions with a specialist perinatal clinician. 

“We’ve seen a surge in new families seeking mental health support.”  

“Already, 2,168 clients have booked appointments for 2024, and the demand shows no signs of slowing down.” 

Gibson highlighted that community donations allow them to continue initiatives such as the Gidget Training Institute and our Workforce Development Program which addresses the shortage of specialist perinatal mental health clinicians nationally. 

“With one in five mothers and one in ten fathers experiencing perinatal depression and anxiety (PNDA), as well as maternal suicide being a leading cause of death among expectant and new mothers – it’s vital that parents have access to specialist, appropriate care.” 

Lisa echoes this sentiment, “Opening up the conversation and removing the stigma can change and save a life and is vital for people realising that they are not alone in their experience.” 

To help GFA meet the increasing demand for their crucial and free perinatal mental health services, every donation made this Gidget Giving Day (19 June 2024), will be doubled for 24 hours, thanks to the generosity of Giving Day Matchers.  

All funds raised will help the charity ensure vulnerable expectant and new parents receive support without delay. 

Related: Gidget Foundation Australia appoints Emma Maple-Brown as newest Board Director

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.

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