What every parent struggling with mental illness or depression needs to remember

For most of us, today is a typical Saturday. Perhaps you’ll spend the day at the shops, take the kids to the park, attend a birthday party or barbecue, enjoy a family dinner and movies on the lounge.

But today is also World Mental Health Day, a day where those who struggle with mental illness, including anxiety, depression or postnatal depression, are reminded that they are not alone.

One in five Australians experience a mental illness every year. As many as one in seven women experience postnatal depression and around 14 per cent of adults are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.

Some overcome mental illness. Some do not.

Postnatal depression, depression and anxiety are nothing to be ashamed of. They can be crippling to live with; they can ruin relationships; and they can make being a mum even harder than it already is.

There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding mental illness and there always will be. Many people assume it’s hormones, or dietary problems – that it’s not real or not true. For most, coping with a mental illness is something that is done behind closed doors.

But for those mums who do understand the pain that comes with mental illness, just remember that there are countless other mums out there, hiding behind the same doors and fighting the same battles as you.

To any mum who has felt overcome with crippling guilt, fear or anger, you are not alone. To any mum who has looked at their infant and wanted to run away, to hide or to turn back time,  you are not alone. To any mum who has gone to bed afraid for the next day, you are not alone.

To any mum who has felt like she is failing, you are not alone.

Look at yourself. Look at your smiling child. Look at the way your baby looks at you. You are her world. You are winning the battle. And that’s all you need to know, on World Mental Health Day or any other day of the year.

There are online resources, medications and counselling services widely available to help those who need it and we encourage anyone who is struggling with mental illness to seek help.

For more information and to find support, visit Beyond Blue, PANDA or World Mental Health Day.

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