MEL Sargeant had always been a very relaxed person.
But after having each of her two children, the radio personality – affectionately known as “Sarge” – struggled with anxiety.
“I didn’t seek help though, because – like so many other mothers – I felt I’d be classed as a bad mum if I did.”
If you look up at the sky at 11am on Sunday, November 11, you might just see her jumping out of a plane – alongside clinical psychologist Dr Rickie Elliott – to raise awareness of perinatal anxiety and depression.
“Adjusting to being a mum is a huge thing in a woman’s life, and if you need a little bit of help, it’s not the end of the world,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mum, and I’d like to help take away a bit of the stigma.”
They are raising money for COPE, the Centre of Perinatal Excellence.
The women had spoken about perinatal anxiety and depression on the NHM – Newcastle Hunter Mummas – podcast, I Got It From My Mumma.
“What we know from research is that a lot of people don’t understand their symptoms, and won’t be aware that they are actually struggling with anxiety and depression,” Dr Elliott, of The Hummingbird Centre in Warners Bay, said.
“And even when they do, they won’t seek help because it’s associated with a lot of feelings of failure as a parent.
“So they keep it hidden, which means the condition can deteriorate and it can go on for years and impact the whole family.”
Dr Elliott hoped their skydiving efforts would encourage other women – and men – who were new parents to ask for assistance if they did not feel themselves, had a low mood, low energy and reduced motivation.
“Seek help early, you’re not alone, and it’s not a reflection of your parenting ability,” she said.
“Research shows a lot of men suffer from postnatal anxiety and depression too, and they are definitely not seeking treatment or help, because there is even more stigma.”
Other symptoms included losing enjoyment in things they previously enjoyed, social withdrawal, anger and agitation.
“A lot of these struggles are typical and transient,” she said.
“But we say if these feelings are going along for most of the day, nearly every day, for more than two weeks – reach out and talk to your GP.”
The women will take their leap of faith with Newcastle Skydive 11th of November at 11am.
Find out more via nhmnewcastlehuntermummas.com.
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