Being a new parent can be one of the most challenging times in a person’s life, especially for the mother. Between lack of sleep, caring for an infant, hormonal imbalances and potentially the worry of juggling a new aspect of work/ life it’s no surprise that postnatal depression affects one in six women.
But, despite its prevalence, many women suffer in silence. As an employer, it will be beneficial to you and your employee to provide the support they need. For new mothers it can be stressful returning to work; apprehensive on whether they can still meet the expectations of their role while still adapting to life caring for an infant. Employers can make a difference by creating a more inclusive environment , including access to mental health resources & specific return to work programs. While your organisation may have policies in place, it’s time to humanise them and ensure they are utilised.
Family members and even new mothers themselves may have difficulty recognising that what they are going through is depression. Consider developing a campaign to raise awareness and educate staff on signs of postnatal depression. This can include providing information when an employee submits a maternity leave application, new mother groups and posters and pamphlets in the lactation room.
Proper communication around benefits and policies are key and should not be confined to new mothers. It’s important for all staff to understand the policies, warning signs and ways to support colleagues that may be experiencing symptoms.
Review current programs using the lens of new mothers to better understand where gaps might be. There are three key areas to consider – social services, employer programs and medical coverage.
Be sure to promote a list of free social resources available. For example, Singapore’s National University Hospital provides women’s emotional health services.
Employers can provide maternity/ paternity support (i.e. education, leave) and specially designed return to work practices that help women re-integrate effectively back into the workplace without feeling ignored; it can include “check in days”, flexible working and adapting job scopes for both men and women.
In terms of medical coverage, review what’s covered when it comes to mental health, so they can access the right help if needed. Does your plan currently exclude GP visits and psychiatry and counselling services?
The risk of not taking action is that you may see key talent leave the workforce or be less productive at work. According to the World Health Organization, mental health is estimated to cost the global economy is US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity. If you want to be ahead of this trend, contact us so we can help you ensure that you have adequate support for new mothers as they return to work.