Mums learn strategies to care for their mental health

LIFE BALANCE: New mum Lynda Dunn makes sure she takes time out for herself while looking after her three-month-old son Hayden.
LIFE BALANCE: New mum Lynda Dunn makes sure she takes time out for herself while looking after her three-month-old son Hayden. Brenda Strong

WITH around one in six women suffering from postnatal depression and anxiety, a series of workshops aim to teach mothers how to take care of their mental health for the well-being of themselves and their families.

Gladstone Women's Health Centre hosted "Putting You Back into Mum" on Tuesday as a video conference linked with other centres around the state.

The presentation was put together by Women's Health Queensland Wide Inc, looking at strategies for women coping with the demands of motherhood and daily life, particularly for those living in isolated areas.

Gladstone Women's Health Centre youth and family worker Crystal Harvey said taking time out for themselves was essential for a woman's sense of self-worth, but many find it hard to put themselves ahead of others, especially their families.

"As a mum, and as women, we are really good at putting others first and sometimes we think it is selfish if we put ourselves first," she said.

"It depends on the different circumstances, but essentially, as an individual, if they don't look after themselves, they can start to feel down and suffer from depression and anxiety."

Women's Health Queensland Wide Inc statistics reveal that as well as postnatal depression, around 10% of women have anxiety and depression during pregnancy.

"Yet, they are not seeking help," Ms Harvey said.

"If they are feeling that way for more than two weeks than they need to seek some sort of help or guidance.

"We do encourage women, not to suffer in silence.

"It doesn't miraculously get better, so seek out help, seek out guidance and support."

As a midwife, Lynda Dunn has witnessed many mothers go through postnatal depression.

Now a mother herself looking after her three-month-old son, Hayden, she makes a conscious effort not to fall into the same trap.

Ms Dunn attended the "Putting the You Back into Mum" workshop to get tips on how to cope with the demands of motherhood, while making the time to look after herself.

She said the shock and physical toll of looking after a newborn was sometimes enough to put you in a negative frame of mind.

"It's compounded because when you are tired, it really is a big effort to go out and do the things that used to make you happy, so then you don't do that and then it just gets worse and worse," she said.

Ms Dunn said her coping strategies included eating healthy and planning breaks into the day.

The workshop also encouraged mums to join community groups.

Topics:  gladstone mental health motherhood

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