Nurturing new mothers struggling with mental health

A young woman seated in a garden
FSH Mental Health Consumer Advisory Group Deputy Chair Ebonee Lynch.
November 20, 2018

Before Ebonee Lynch entered the inpatient ward at Fiona Stanley Hospital’s (FSH) Mother and Baby Mental Health Unit (MBU), she “felt alone and unsupported”.

Having given birth to her second daughter, Luca Anais, just five months prior, Ebonee was struggling to care for two children under the age of four.

“Luca took every ounce of my attention and energy.  At the same time, I was grieving for the moments and time I had lost with my first daughter,” Ebonee recalled. 

“My emotions led to a state of distress, I couldn't manage or deal with the pressure I had put on myself.”

Reaching out to family and health care professionals was challenging for Ebonee, who remembers the experience as “getting to a dead end”.

“No one seemed to take me seriously because I wasn’t on the verge of suicide.  My GP believed there were people in worse situations than me,” she said.

“It was only by luck that a NGALA social worker strongly encouraged me to go to emergency and get a referral for MBU.”

“When I arrived I was completely exhausted, overwhelmed and embarrassed.”

Ebonee said she had a very positive experience at MBU and the care she received from the multi-disciplinary team was remarkable.

“I soon realised I needed help and I started to open up to the staff and could relate to what the other mothers were experiencing.

“The experience changed my thinking of what the MBU service is for and can do for women like me.”

MBU Psychiatrist Dr Tanya Devadason said postnatal depression and anxiety is often not diagnosed.

“Many women may feel ashamed to open up about the difficulties they are experiencing.  Often women are unaware of the treatment options that are available either through the MBU or community based perinatal mental health services,” Dr Devadason said.

MBU Clinical Nurse Specialist Margaret Muldoon encourages any mother in the postnatal period who is struggling or not coping emotionally to reach out.

“The best place to start is with your GP, child health nurse, psychologist, social worker or support services.  Otherwise in a crisis situation, we encourage you to go to straight to your local Emergency Department or contact MBU,” Margaret said.

Ebonee is now helping other women in her role as deputy chair of the FSH Mental Health Consumer Advisory Group.

“I had a great experience at MBU and the staff were absolutely crucial to me feeling okay and surviving during the day.  You don’t need to struggle on your own, and I hope I can make a difference to someone in need.”

The MBU comprises of a multi-disciplinary team who work together to provide individualised care for moderate to severe mental health issues such as depression and anxiety in the postnatal period.

For more information, please contact the FSH Mother and Baby Mental Health Unit on 61521583.

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