New Mothers' Mental Health Crisis
Vulnerable parents are drastically unsupported in mental health in New Zealand.
Alarmingly, one in four new mothers will experience perinatal disorders as some stage between pregnancy and one year after giving birth, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and psychosis. One in ten fathers will struggle with depression after the birth of their child. Left untreated, these conditions can lead to suicide, which incredibly is the leading cause of death for mothers in the first year of a baby's life.
This systematic problem needs addressing for the wellbeing of mothers, their partners, their babies and our society. Poor mental health of parents creates economic and health costs for many years as it impacts an entire family. It simply makes sense to prioritise mental health of new mothers and their partners.
Like most things in healthcare studies repeatedly show that when it comes to the mental health of new parents an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Yet time and time again we invest in expensive treatment to deal with the issue when it gets serious, rather than nipping it in the bud early.
For decades, successive governments have been putting ambulances at the bottom of the healthcare cliff, trying to catch some of those who fall off, but barely addressing the underlying issues causing health decline in New Zealand. We need to start preventing problems before they happen.
The Opportunities Party (TOP) realises that investment in mental health is a crucial part of prevention. The evidence shows that prevention is best performed in communities in ways that suit that community, rather than through a one-size-fits-all top-down approach. TOP would move mental health funding out of District Health Boards and into communities who know what people need.
In terms of new mothers' healthcare, through our Universal Basic Income (UBI), TOP will support parents by giving $250 per week to every adult in New Zealand (between the ages of 18 and 64) plus $40 per week per child. Rather than telling families how to spend this money, this UBI would empower families to make more choices to support new mothers.
TOP’s Education Policy prioritises the Early Years of Learning and takes a holistic approach to child development. This means focussing on quality services that offer integration between early childhood education services and families. TOPs approach to early childhood has the potential to grow whole communities, and ease the isolation many new mothers feel.
More broadly, many of our policies will have a big impact on the underlying issues that determine our physical and mental health. We will reduce poverty through our UBI and Tax Reform policies. We will grow communities through our Early Childhood, Preventative Health and Building Aotearoa policies. Our Climate Action Solution and improvements to tenant rights will also ensure people live in warm, dry homes. Our Real Deal Cannabis Reform and Real Action on Alcohol will reduce harm from both these drugs, as well as investing money in drug and alcohol rehab and improving mental health.
TOP believes we need fundamental change to better support vulnerable mothers and their babies in our communities. Don’t leave that change to chance. Vote TOP.