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Future Leader tackles PND in the community

07 April 2017

Tiffany tackles PNDTiffany De Sousa Machado (above) is studying for her PhD/Master of Psychology (Health), Shool of Psychology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Adelaide. 

Her recent Westpac Bicentennial Foundation Future Leaders Scholarship provides her with the economic support to complete her study as well as develop her leadership skills.

“My project’s foundation is Post Natal Depression and the alleviation of that in our culture,” she explains.

“I want to look at the social, emotional and mental benefits of bringing older retired women together with mothers with the aim of reducing and better understanding Post Natal Depression [PND],” continues Tiffany, who believes we place far too much pressure on women to have it all and do it all.

PND, she says, needs to be considered within the very biomedical and individualistic culture in which we live.

“Women are largely held responsible for Post Natal Depression if they suffer the condition. The onus is on the woman and we don’t look at how our culture shapes Post Natal Depression and the way we deal with it,” says Tiffany.

“We need to recognise the place in which we sit as women and mothers before we try and deal with the problem,” says Tiffany.

“My goal is to change our approach to parenthood and really bring back community because we live in an increasingly isolating culture and one of the recurring factors in Post Natal Depression is the lack of social support people receive,” says Tiffany.

Transitioning to motherhood is a substantial event for many women and not one we always cope with well: “Motherhood is not revered. It’s not something for which we strive. We revere academic achievement, professional and career development, or women who do that while being a mother, but as for motherhood on its own, this is not held in high regard in our culture.

“Motherhood is often isolating. In the home and out of the workplace they often see and interact with fewer and fewer people and unless mothers actively seek to engage with mothers’ groups, motherhood is largely an isolated role in our culture. It’s why we don’t do the transition to motherhood well.”

The patriarchal society further compounds the issues women and parents face. This is not a model which considers women as equals and for which the needs of women with children in the workforce are accounted, such as breastfeeding babies. The benchmarks by which individuals are measured in such a society also fail to accommodate the growing numbers of men who want to parent their children and play more than the role of second class citizen in their relationships with their children.

Many women question their rights as mothers, as parents, and this, says Tiffany, needs to change: “Men need to embrace the role of parenting and push in the workplace to prove their innate capability, because if men viewed themselves as equal in child rearing the potential is there for a huge change in attitude.

“I would say to people - not just women - we are doing parenting wrong and we need to shake it up. We are not looking at the wisdom that comes from being a mother and revering and using it. We are not giving women the time to adjust to the transition and the support they need to make that transition, including the support of men,” finishes Tiffany.