Two in five parents experience a mental health issue – RCN Survey

Two in five parents experienced a mental health issue during or after pregnancy with their first child, according to a survey, which found many are too afraid to seek professional support.

The poll of 2,000 new mothers and fathers, for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), found that less than half (46%) of those who suffered from anxiety, depression or another mental health issue considered seeking help from a healthcare professional. A quarter of those who did not seek professional support said they were too scared to do so.

The RCN suggests the findings point to an “ongoing stigma” around mental health, which is particularly powerful for parents and is preventing many from getting potentially life-saving support.

The poll results also highlight the lack of support for men, a quarter of whom said they experienced depression or anxiety during or after their partner’s pregnancy. Around two-thirds of men were not asked about their mental health at all during the pregnancy, the survey found.

Carmel Bagness, professional lead for midwifery and women’s health at the RCN, said: “Too many parents worry that going through depression or anxiety means they will be deemed unfit parents, and this can be a hugely damaging and incorrect assumption which is putting lives at risk and
preventing people getting the support they deserve.

“All healthcare staff should be aware of the importance of the mental health of mothers and fathers. Employers should provide training to ensure that every member of staff knows how to talk about these issues with parents, and how to encourage parents to be open about their mental health. Too many women and men are suffering in silence because of outdated stigmas. Too often, attitudes towards mental health are not fit for the 21st century.”

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