Celebrating 10 Years of Service: Raising Awareness for Perinatal Mental Health

As part of PANDA Week, Playgroup WA’s Mother-Baby Nurture celebrates turning 10 years old

This unique postnatal support group in Perth has a focus on supporting the connection between mother and infant during those important early monthsTo celebrate, an event was held on 1 November at Neil McDougall Park in Como to bring together Western Australian families who have completed the 10-week program, having lived through postnatal struggles, and come out the other side. Despite the wet weather, more than 40 families attended with their children and took part in a range of fun activities.  

At the event, a PANDA Week grant provided funding for Playgroup WA’s1000 Bright Futures ProjectSeveral mothers who had taken part in the Mother-Baby Nurture program were interviewed to capture their stories on film, celebrating the 1000 children whose future is brighter thanks to the timely support of Mother-Baby Nurture. 

Mother-Baby Nurture coordinator Sharon Cooke said, “As part of this project we are looking forward to releasing a short film early in 2021 featuring the lived postnatal experiences from the Mother-Baby Nurture alumni. 

Participation in the Mother-Baby Nuture program has been evidenced to alleviate symptoms of postnatal anxiety and depression, strengthen the mother-infant relationship, and reduce social isolation. The need for this support has become more important than ever with demand high and families waitlisted for this program.  

As part of this year’s Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Action Week (PANDA Week), Playgroup WA’s Mother-Baby Nurture program is taking the opportunity to highlight the prevalence of perinatal anxiety and depression which exists among mothers with new babies.  

1 in 5 Australian women experience mental health difficulties during pregnancy and in the first 12 months of the baby’s lifeaccording to industry peak body PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia).  This translates to 7,000 Western Australian mothers every year (a figure calculated on the recent annual birth rates as published by the WA Government).  

Ms Cooke said despite this high occurrence there was still a great deal of stigma and shame attached to perinatal and anxiety depression, which is preventing new families from seeking the support they so desperately need. 

Playgroup WA’s CEO David Zarb said, There is a growing body of evidence that shows that many challenges in later life have their roots in the early years of life, such as chronic health, mental health, relationships and education. The period from conception to two years is the critical window, known by the World Health Organisation as the First 1000 Days.”   

Playgroup WA is grateful for the support that the State Government has provided to allow Mother-Baby Nurture groups to operate in four metropolitan locations. 


About Mother-Baby Nurture 

Mother-Baby Nurture is a therapeutic support group for mothers struggling to care and connect with their infant during the first six-month post-partum. It offers a two-hour facilitated reflective space over 10 consecutive weeks for mothers and infants. Participation in Mother-Baby Nurture has been evidenced to alleviate symptoms of postnatal anxiety and depression, strengthen the mother-infant relationship and reduce social isolation. At any one time there are seven community-based groups in progress in Western Australia; six across the Perth metropolitan area and one in the south-west.  

Sharon Cooke is a Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Specialist and service coordinator for Mother-Baby Nurture, Playgroup WA. As a midwife and child health nurse, she has over 25 years of experience working with new and vulnerable families. To enquire about the program, email: Sharon.Cooke@playgroupwa.com.au  

About PANDA Week 2020 

2020 brings the 15th annual PANDA Week. Since 2005 PANDA has been leading the perinatal mental health sector in promoting the Week to raise awareness about perinatal anxiety and depression, including signs to look for and where to go to seek support. In this most unusual and difficult year, PANDA Week it is more important than ever. With many expecting and new parents struggling due to COVID-19 and associated restrictions, it’s critical that we work together to support families facing mental health challenges at this time. The theme for PANDA Week 2020 is ‘Tell someone who cares’. This year, more than ever it’s vital that expecting and new parents who are struggling know they’re not alone and can reach out for help. And just as importantly, they can know that when they do reach out, they will be supported by those they confide in, whether family members, health professionals, PANDA or other perinatal mental health specialists. https://www.panda.org.au/awareness/panda-week  

Media Contact: Caroline Ince 9228 8088 or email Caroline.Ince@playgroupwa.com.au 

Marketing Manager, Playgroup WA  

PANDA’s National Perinatal Mental Health Helpline: 1300 726 306
9:00am – 7:30pm Mon – Saturday (AEST)
Or email a question via support@panda.org.au