Parenting can be a tough gig, and even tougher if dreams have been shattered by miscarriage or stillbirth, but a new free service has officially opened in Shellharbour to help.
Parent support organisation Karitane has teamed up with the Gidget Foundation for a health centre at Stockland, to offer psychologists and family health nurses for vulnerable families.
"A lot of intensive support services are very metro-centric so it's really important to us to look and explore the regional areas of NSW and bing our services too," Karitane CEO Grainne O'Loughlin said.
Gidget House, which is found in the community room of the shopping centre, was officially opened on Tuesday but has been serving the community since October.
The service helps expectant and new parents who would otherwise struggle to pay for specialist counselling by providing psychological counselling services, along with consultations with child and family health nurses by appointment.
Both services are highly sought after in Sydney, with waiting lists of four months and beyond for their counselling services and programs for toddlers with significant behavioural issues.
"We look after people with grief and loss, people with infertility issues, birth trauma, stillbirth, the full gamut of issues around the perinatal period," said Arabella Gibson, CEO of the Gidget Foundation.
Mrs Gibson said she was drawn to work for the organisation after having twins (now aged nine) in London, and feels "an amazing amount of empathy for new parents because of hte isolation felt".
"Fear, denial and shame are three words that one in five new mums and one in five new dads will feel in the first year of having a baby," she said. "We know that over 100,000 new parents experience perinatal anxiety and depression every year, and that's only the ones diagnosed."
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Minister for Mental Health and Women, Bronnie Taylor, said babies are a blessing but a newborn can also be one of the most challenging times in a mother's or father's life.
"Sometimes we can forget that it can be a stressful, lonely and overwhelming time caring for a newborn," she said. "I acknowledge the wonderful staff from the Gidget Houses; they are passionate about helping families in their hour of need."
Other locations for Gidget Houses include: North Sydney, Manly at Royal Far West, Merrylands at Stockland, Randwick at Karitane, Gidget House Shellharbour at Stockland, North Sydney at the Mater Hospital, St Leonards at North Shore Private Hospital and in Tresillian Family Care Centres at Dubbo, Coffs Harbour, Queanbeyan, Taree, Wagga Wagga.
- Gidget House does not provide crisis support. If you are in need of urgent help please call your local hospital or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
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