Mater pair turn personal struggles into hope, providing support for parents this Perinatal Mental Health Week

Warning: This article contains information about suicidal thoughts and references personal mental health battles which some readers may find distressing.

After battling their own perinatal mental health issues, two Mater Peer Support Workers are using their lived experience to support others going through similar struggles.

Joining the Catherine’s House for Mothers, Babies and Families team when the facility first opened in March 2023, Taryn Collins and Genevieve Heraghty said their own journeys with perinatal mental health motivated them to work in the field.

Affecting 1 in 5 women[1] and 1 in 10 men[2] worldwide, Ms Heraghty said her journey with perinatal anxiety and depression began unexpectedly after the birth of her first child.

“What I thought would be a time of joy was overshadowed by a profound sense of anxiety and deep, unexplainable sadness,” Ms Heraghty said.

“I found myself often feeling overwhelmed and inadequate as a new parent. The constant worry and self-doubt made even simple tasks seem impossible.”

“My struggles and personal recovery put me in a unique position to help other parents going through a similar experience,” Ms Collins said.

“Talking to someone who understands what you are going through and has come out the other side can give you a glimmer of hope when all hope seems lost.”

Ms Heraghty and Ms Collins said this year’s Perinatal Mental Health Week (12 – 18 November) theme, ‘We’re here, uncover your village,’ resonates deeply with them, as they reflect on its significance.

Now in a better place, the women stress that recovery is not linear and having a support system is invaluable on the road to regaining a sense of purpose and helping to see the light at the end of what seems like a never-ending tunnel.

“We need to reduce the stigma parents face when they ask for help, understanding that they need a support system around them,” Ms Collins said.

“The concept of a village is not just personal; it's a universal need, particularly for the mothers at Catherine’s House,” Ms Heraghty added.

“We strive to help these mothers not only find their village but also to proactively build it, fostering a network of support and solidarity as they navigate their recovery journey.”


How you can support those dealing with perinatal mental health battles

  • Normalise the struggles of parenthood and mental health
  • Connect through conversation
  • Listen, provide a safe space and offer reassurance
  • Don’t be afraid of asking questions and be prepared to hear honest answers
  • Encourage parents to reach out for professional help
  • Be the village!


For more information on Catherine’s House for Mothers, Babies and Families, click here.

PANDA National Helpline 1300 726 306 (Monday to Saturday)

Lifeline Australia 13 11 14 (available 24/7)

Pictured: Genevieve Heraghty and Taryn Collins.

[1] (Leach, Poyser, & Fairweather-Schmidt, 2015)

[2] (Leiferman, et al., 2021)

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