Michelle Hall knows first-hand the effect post-natal depression can have, that's why she's set up a free support group to let other mums know they are not alone.

The Tauranga mum attended an eight-week course for women with postnatal depression or anxiety and saw the benefits of a follow-up group that mums could attend on a casual basis when the need arose.

"After eight weeks it's not like you don't have depression any more. Talking to other mums I saw there was a real need in the community. Lots of women were struggling and looking for a sense of belonging.

"With PND, or any sort of depression, you often think you're the only one it's happening to. I wanted a place for women to come and be their authentic self and if that meant they were saying 'I'm overwhelmed all the time and feel like I'm failing at motherhood, and it really sucks', to be able to say that without judgement."

Advertisement

The eight-week course she attended has been run by the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation for several years and Hall's support group has been set up with funding and support from them.

Hall said some of the women came to the group "in the depths of their despair" while others had been going since it started in April last year, come out the other side, and attend to share "wisdom and hope".

The sessions include a short meditation and sharing. They are informal and childcare is available.

"There are all sorts of different, wonderful stories. We might have tears one month and laughter the next.

"By women sharing their experiences, it gives permission for others to do the same.

"It's all about finding the joy in being a mother, which can be difficult when you have depression."

Hall is also a mental health support worker and can refer to other support services in the community.

Primary mental health coordinator for the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation, Sylvia Donaldson, said the group complemented the eight-week course.

Advertisement

"It is particularly important to ensure that support is available when needed to improve maternal and child wellbeing."

The details
What: Post-natal depression support group
Where: The School House in the Historic Village on Seventeenth Ave.
When: 12.30-2.30pm on the last Monday of each month. Next session March 25.
Contact: Michelle Hall on 021 541 440 or email honouringthemother@gmail.com

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.