What is Mental Wellbeing?
Mental wellbeing, also known as mental health or emotional welfare affects us all and can be described as how you feel and cope on a day to day basis. Mental wellbeing can change from day to day or week to week. Those who describe themselves as having a high level of mental wellbeing usual enjoy the benefits of this such as:
- They are confident and good to themselves
- They are realistic
- They enjoy positive relationships with those around them
- They manage to be productive at home and at work
- They cope well with everyday stress and change and adapt easily
Lots of things can have a negative effect on your wellbeing. We all feel stressed, sad or struggle to cope at times and some factors or occurrences affect us more than others. Being a single parent can leave you open to mental health issues especially when certain factors such as sole financial responsibility cause you stress and anxiety.
Some of the things that we as single parents experience may have a serious impact on our mental wellbeing, such as:
- Social isolation, loneliness or discrimination
- Homelessness or poor housing
- Along-term physical health condition
- Social disadvantage, poverty or debt
- Caring for a family member or friend
- Significant trauma as an adult, such as military combat, being involved in a serious accident or being the victim of a violent crime / mental abuse.
Experiencing negative wellbeing for long periods can make you more susceptible to mental health problems and if you are already suffering from a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression you’re more susceptible to having longer periods of negative wellbeing. That’s not to say that you can’t still have good times and lengthy periods of positive and good wellbeing and be able to manage your mental health issues without having an episode. It means that you might find yourself needing and benefiting from additional support.
There are lots of organisations that can offer help and support, such as:
Post Natal Depression
Having a baby can be not only an amazing occasion it can also be quite distressing and hard work for some mothers. Here in the UK according to the charity 4Chard, it is estimated that around 3 in 10 new mothers will suffer from Post Natal Depression (PND) which is a form of depression that a woman may struggle with after giving birth.
PND is usually diagnosed around 6 months after birth, however it can develop as early as a few weeks. PND can affect women of all ethnic groups with single mothers and teenage mothers being slightly more at risk of developing the condition. A lot of women will ignore their symptoms such as low mood and irritability putting it down to hormonal changes therefore leaving PND undiagnosed and also putting mum and others at risk.
Some PND Symptoms and Signs
We all feel exhausted after giving birth and of course, our hormones are all over the place, not only giving us baby brain but also giving us the ability to cry at the Antiques Road Show. Recognising the difference between struggling with a simple case of tiredness or being overwhelmed by all the change and realising that your experience might be PND is crucial for the health and wellbeing of both mother and baby. Here are a list of signs and symptoms that can help you recognise if those so-called baby blues could be a little bit more
- Low mood and changes in mood
- Loss of interest of life in general
- No energy & feeling tired
- Sleep problems
- Difficulties concentrating
- Low self-esteem
- Appetite increase or decrease
- Feelings of guilt & shame
- Feeling like you want to end your life
There is not one single thing that causes PND but experts believe that it can develop because of a range of issues such as:
- Single parenting/abandonment
- Teenage pregnancy
- Relationship worries
- Financial worry
- No support network such as family & friends
- A difficult delivery
- Depression throughout pregnancy
- A history of mental health prior to becoming pregnant
It is important to not only be honest with yourself, your partner and family but to immediately consult your GP. There is no shame in having this condition. With the right support as early as possible, then the right treatment as well as advice and support you can get through it.
Your GP will usually ask two screening questions, these are:
- During the past month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?
- During the past month, have you often taken little or no pleasure in doing things that normally make you happy?
Answering these questions as honestly as you can is vital for diagnosis and also treatment. Some mothers feel shame and embarrassment due to thinking others will view them as failures and or as being weak as a parent. This is not the case and diagnosing PND will only help a mother in caring for and bonding with her baby. Normally answering yes to one or both of these questions will suggest that PND is apparent, however your GP will probably request blood tests to rule out other possible causes such as anaemia and underactive thyroid.
The process for recovery is not always fast paced. It is important that treatment is taken at the right pace to suit the individual and that family and friends are there to support Mum and the rest of the family. We have listed some treatment options below for you to think about although exact treatments will depend on your individual circumstances and health.
- Antidepressants- Only recommended by a GP
- Healthy diet
- Talking therapies
- Support and advice-family, friends and outside agencies
If you are concerned about how you are feeling the very best thing that you can do for yourself and your family is to share that concern with your healthcare provider whose job it is to ensure that you get the help and support that you both need and deserve.