The cost of perinatal depression economically is huge — estimated to be $877 million annually according to new figures from PwC.
But for individual families, the cost is much greater and not something that can be measured in economic terms.
To mark this week’s Perinatal Depression & Anxiety Awareness week, Karitane CEO Grainne O’Loughlin shares why employers must do more to support working parents, especially following the findings of the National Working Family Report that found parents are struggling to maintain their health.
Research tells us that parents have the greatest influence on their children’s development and wellbeing, so it matters that adequate support is readily available to ensure parents are equipped to be the best parent they can be.
The first 2,000 days (0-5 years) shapes a child’s future, and during this time children develop many of the skills and abilities that help them grow into healthy, resilient adults. Bonded attachment is critical for a child’s brain development, their ability to form relationships and is proven to have improved education outcomes as well as reducing the risk of mental illness later in life. Raising thriving, healthy children is all important and building young brains takes work.
Parents need support to help children develop the skills they need.
Parents experiencing mental health issues, stress and anxiety can have an impact on their children’s wellbeing and development and we know that 1 in 5 mums and up to 1 in 10 dads experience a perinatal mood disorder.
We also know that in today’s communities, a lot of parents are working. It’s critical then to consider how organisations can best shift with the change in the social paradigm of supporting the juggle of parenting and families.
The alarming statistics in the Working Families survey have revealed the significant toll that work-life conflict has on personal and family wellbeing. Parents taking stress home from work impacts not only on their wellbeing but also the wellbeing of their children and their relationships. With the report showing that half of all parents returning to work after parental leave report significant fatigue; a third are worried and anxious; and one in five report feeling depressed, employers need to take notice and support parents and families in this critical time.
The significant findings demonstrate why it is now more important than ever to create better policies to support parents, to help children to learn and grow from the earliest day onward.
We must ensure that we provide flexible workplaces along with parenting education and support to employees navigating the challenge of balancing parenting with a career.
Not only will this benefit business, but it will benefit children, parents and the broader community.