PNDSA (The Post-Natal Depression Support Association of South Africa) was officially constituted in February 1997, by a small group of health professionals, and “PND survivors”, under the leadership of Liz Mills. It is a registered non-profit association funded by donations from the private individuals, companies and membership fees, and is staffed, almost entirely, by volunteers. Charges for services are calculated on a sliding scale. Some professional members of PNDSA offer their services at a reduced rate.
While many mothers, do, in fact, experience the birth of a baby as a “happy event”; PNDSA is concerned with the ten to thirty percent of parents, for whom this is not true.
PNDSA was founded in order:
- To break the conspiracy of silence about mood disorders associated with childbirth.
- To de-stigmatize perinatal depression and anxiety.
- To educate and sensitize the professional community and the general public regarding the facts about ante- and post-natal mood disorders.
- To give hope to those who suffer from mood disorders around the time of childbirth, and to assist them and their families in receiving help.
- To give support to those who are experiencing depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after delivery, and to hasten their recovery by referring them to experienced health professionals for medication and other appropriate treatment.
- To provide, wherever possible, information, empathic counseling, and social and group support.
- To train health professionals and lay support providers in how to identify and give support for perinatal illness.
- To spread the message to those who suffer from ante- and postnatal depression and anxiety that:
- You are not alone
- You are not to blame
- You are entitled to help
- You will recover
Up to 30% of new mothers in South Africa (an estimated minimum of 50 000 mothers per year) are clinically ill with depression or anxiety disorders. They are unable, through no fault of their own, to respond adequately to their infants’ needs. Appropriate instrumental, emotional and social responsiveness is crucial to the healthy development of the child. Pregnancy and the first year after birth are critical developmental periods, and if the primary caretaker, for whatever reason, is unable to attend to and satisfy the needs of the child, there will be long-term negative consequences.
Thousands of women receive help from PNDSA each year, via telephone and face-to-face counseling, support groups, hospital visits, information packs and referrals to the medical profession and other professional care-givers. PNDSA also gives informational talks upon request, lectures and training workshops for support volunteers and professionals. A resource library is available for members, for research and general purposes. Volunteers regularly visit maternity hospitals to inform new mothers about our services. They also give informal talks on the subject of ante- and post-natal depression and anxiety, at childbirth education and antenatal classes, and other meetings attended by parents of young children. Recently, PNDSA has provided lectures to commercial companies who employ a large number of women who are of childbearing age.
It is the policy of PNDSA, not only to target the general public, but also to collaborate with existing health and community services, including:
- Local and regional community health services, and other providers of family support services, including NGOs
- The professional medical community and health care providers, including:
- childbirth educators
- family practitioners,
- lactation consultants,
- mental health services,
- nurse practitioners,
- well-baby clinics,
- well-women practices
- local and international researchers interested in women’s mental health – via teaching hospitals, universities and other related educational institutions
- Practitioners of “alternative” medicine, including traditional healers, homeopaths, infant massage teachers, and other practitioners who offer treatment to the parents of young children
- Religious bodies of all denominations, which are concerned with the spiritual, physical and psychological well-being of parents of young children
- Services concerned with the care of mothers, especially mothers who are at risk for HIV-Aids MTCT
- Services dedicated to the improvement of the quality of parenting skills, with a view to the prevention of later deviant behaviour in the children.
PNDSA, through Liz Mills, is a member of the Marc