Ah, this is what a love about our government. And our society, too, of course.
The federal Budget has been announced and amongst other things is the promise of a $1.5 billion package for mental health, to be rolled out over five years.
Mention of support for mental health services, better co-ordinated care for severe illness, prevention and early intervention services for children and young people is made.
And “hurrah” is my initial thought. As mental health, and particularly depression, postnatal depression and suicide (teenage boys scare me!) is something very close to my heart, and something I am incredibly passionate about.
I am pleased, to say the least.
Except … and keeping in mind my focus is very much on antenatal and postnatal depression, and maternal mental health … when I read in today’s Melbourne Herald Sun, on the page before this fabulous package, is the delayed rollout of paternity leave. This deision was made in a bid to “shave $33 million off the bottom line over five years”. So, what’s that $6.6 million per year.
Hmmm, and this is were I am completely confused, confuddled and bewildered.
Before I continue, I want to acknowledge how incredibly difficult sorting a budget out, particuarly one at this level, must be. Being on a committee is nothing short of sheer hell. This must be so inexplicably beyond that that I can’t even comprehend how hellish this job must be. Not to mention the extremely loud voices from minority groups, demanding things like the right – because, damn it, they’re entitled to it – being paid to stay home and raise their children (which is all well and good, in my opionion, if said children are being raised to fit in with and contribute to a society, and it doesn’t get to a point where poeple are getting a bit jack of not being paid enough for the “job” and refuse to perform what we currently consider “parental duties”) or a small bunch of teenagers getting up the duff for the baby bonus, yet we’ll refer to it as an epidemic and implement strategies as approved by some other minority group to stop this abomination etc etc etc blah blah blah
There’s lots to think about and lots of people to appease.
So why am I confused?
Well, apart from either having had not enough coffee/wine, or too much (depending on the time of day you ask me) here’s what I don’t get.
One of the significant contributing factors to postnatal depression is lack of social, emotional and practical support.
Basically, being left at home, alone with new baby, with no help (and quite possibly not a lot of a clue) and no one to talk to/listen to you.
Hubby is generally off working, the visitors stopped when you left the hospital, or, possibly when you wept uncontrollably on their going out frock when they tried to leave, or told you in no uncertain terms just how wrong you are doing everything. He’s not able to take your calls, the experts have all but exploded your brain with their contradictory, guilt inducing and sanctimonious advice and, really, why is it the baby demands your attention, again, just when you need to hang the clothes up, or do a wee?
What I’m getting at is having hubby home for that two weeks post birth is, generally, not all bad. Yes, in some cases, it’s possibly worse, but I’m going with majority here, ok?
He is there for practical support, helping with various things; bathing baby, changing baby, cooking dinner (a la ordering a pizza, or extracting himself from craziness of household to obtain noodles from seven suburbs away) or entertaining the baby whilst sitting on the couch drinking beer and watching football, during which time you can perform housework, have a bath, or sob hysterically on the kitchen floor. The upside of it is, you have social (ish), emotional and practical support.
Yes, those same things that when lacking contribute to PND, yet when are present considerably reduce the risk of someone suffering this horrible, horrible illness that can have some serious – and fatal – consequences.
Why are we cutitng back on the thing that can prevent a mental illness, yet throwing more funds at it?
I really haven’t looked at the figures, because it is too much like maths for me, but I’m willing