The rhetoric around a ‘post COVID-19 world’ often suggests that mental health will be at the fore. Yet, perinatal mental health issues in Australia sadly remain shrouded in stigma and are often suffered in silence. Gidget Foundation Australia are encouraging new and expectant parents to break their silence.
Gidget Foundation Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to support the emotional wellbeing of expectant and new parents to ensure they receive timely, appropriate and specialist care. Gidget Foundation Australia identified a need to support parents in the Illawarra region, and now have a free psychological support service in Stockland Shellharbour.
Gidget House Shellharbour is a safe haven for expectant and new parents to receive free psychological consultations by a specialist perinatal mental health clinician. By accessing a referral and mental health care plan from their GP, expectant and new parents experiencing perinatal mental health concerns are able to receive free and specialised care.
Gidget was the nickname of a vibrant young mother who tragically took her own life while experiencing unrecognised postnatal depression. Together, her loving family and friends created Gidget Foundation Australia determined that what happened to Gidget would not happen to others.
As a teenager Gidget could often be found sporting a black and white polka dot bikini on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. It was here that she was given her nickname Gidget as she looked similar to Sally Field’s character in the 1960s American sitcom, Gidget.
Gidget is remembered as fun, charming, elegant, affable, cheerful, a perfectionist and ambitious. Her bright personality was matched by her love of colour, in particular red – red shoes, red dresses, red nail polish, red lippy. This is why the Gidget Foundation Australia logo features a flower, a red gerbera. It’s symbolic and a tribute to Gidget.
Gidget left the world too early, though she has left a remarkable legacy. In the words of Gidget’s Mum, Sue Cotton, “Gidget Foundation Australia came into being because of Louise, but it’s not about my little girl anymore. Gidget Foundation Australia is all about the other ‘Gidgets’ and guys out there suffering. Let’s all do whatever we can to get them to start talking.”
Gidget’s Father, David Cotton, is pleased to see the work of Gidget Foundation Australia helping families in need. “Since 2001, the Foundation has supported expecting and new parents who are experiencing perinatal depression and anxiety and I am immensely proud of our history and believe wholeheartedly in our future.”
Perinatal depression and anxiety (PNDA) affects 1 in 5 new mothers and 1 in 10 new fathers and yet, for the majority, it comes as a surprise to the parents and families affected. If you suspect that you or someone close to you is experiencing symptoms, Gidget Foundation Australia recommend seeking help early.
Gidget Foundation Australia know that parents are struggling now more than ever, and want to emphasise that they are here, they are listening and are available to support you.
To make an appointment with Gidget House Shellharbour call 1300 851 758 or email [email protected].
For more information on Gidget Foundation Australia go to gidgetfoundation.org.au.