3 important ways to improve your mental health during COVID-19

This year has been a year like no other, with bushfires, floods, drought and now COVID-19. 2020 is a year that is taking a toll on all facets of our country, from the individual level all the way to an economic level. It is also causing an increase in mental health issues and this is what the Miracle Babies Foundation is highlighting during this year’s Miracle Month of May campaign.

The rise in mental health issues is even more prominent for families with a premature or sick child. New research by the Miracle Babies Foundation reveals four in five (79%) parents of sick or premature children have experienced parental anxiety due to COVID-19. This comes as over half (57%) of parents are concerned about their overall mental health amid the outbreak.

Miracle Mum, Kaylee is one of the mums concerned about her mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, telling Miracle Babies her son was born at 24 weeks gestation, 4 months early, and spent three months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Now an energetic and confident four-year-old, Ryder has fought through many treatments, especially around his Chronic Lung Disease. Kaylee says navigating the stressors caused by coronavirus has increased her anxiety.


Image: Miracle Mum, Kaylee and son Ryder

Despite the general uncertainty caused by COVID-19, more than 48,000 babies like Ryder will still be born prematurely or sick this year, causing an increased risk of post-natal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder amongst parents of premature babies.

We are aware of the uncertainty and heightened anxiety from our families and right across our community at this time. Miracle Babies is continuing to provide support and positive impacts to our miracle babies and their families,” says Kylie Pussell, Miracle Babies Foundation CEO, Co-Founder, and mum to 3 surviving miracle babies.

Trauma counsellor and clinical therapist, Patricia McNamara says for those struggling with their mental health right now, it is important to find appropriate support, and address any feelings of guilt or unacknowledged emotions.

Because it is such an unusual time, people are feeling uncomfortable or experiencing unusual feelings, and possibly things they’ve never felt before. This may be even more prominent for families with a sick or premature baby.

“We often have coping mechanisms and outlets to help manage these feelings, be they friends, exercise, or even just a trip to the beach. However, with coronavirus forcing many into isolation, those usual mechanisms aren’t accessible, and people may be forced to face unresolved emotions without their usual ways to work through them.

“During times like these, we need to take the time to look at what emotions are being stirred up and work through them.”

Here are the three areas Ms McNamara says Miracle families can initially focus on if they’re struggling with the impacts of COVID-19:

Let go of any blame


Sometimes people may have feelings of guilt in these times - challenge these feelings. This may be easier said than done, but it is important not to blame yourself in any way.
Try asking yourself, “Why am I blaming myself?
“If I had a friend in a similar situation would I blame them in the same way I am blaming myself?”


Acknowledge feelings


This doesn’t mean you have to share those feelings with anyone if you don’t want to, but it is important to acknowledge your deep-down feelings at this time. You’re not a terrible person if you feel negative emotions. These may range from sadness, anger, mourning, frustration, or bewilderment. The important thing is to be truly honest with yourself - do not put a spin on it, sometimes things are difficult and messy and that’s ok. By acknowledging your feelings, it will help to normalise them and avoid them building up and causing more stress.


Find your support network


Is there someone you can talk to about the reality of what you’re going through without being judged? This could be in the form of a friend, family member, work colleague, support group, or even a counsellor or a helpline. Sometimes it helps to talk with someone in a similar situation. Either way, you should be able to say “This is difficult” to someone and feel truly heard.
You can also ask yourself, “what will help?”. It could be developing self-care methods as simple as factoring in a regular walk, maybe you might want to seek out support networks if you don’t have any already, or perhaps even access mental health services?


With parents of premature babies already at an increased risk of post-natal depression, The Miracle Babies NurtureLine (1300 622 243) is continuing to stay open to support parents with premature or sick babies in neonatal intensive care units and special care nurseries, as well as delivering the usual face-to-face support via NurtureTime Online using the Zoom platform.

As we adapt to the current situation and develop relevant and ongoing support through online platforms for all our families, we need your help. We can do this together and make sure that ‘no one has to go through this alone,” says Kylie Pussell.

Our 24-Hour Quadruple Giving Day will be our best chance this year to help sustain vital support services for as many of the 48,000 families impacted for the remainder of the year. Every donation made on Tuesday 19th May will be quadrupled thanks to our Matching Donors. Last year, with the help of our generous matching donors, we raised $101,796! Your donation can help us extend our reach with our support services and resources for families across Australia. Help us make a difference to more Australian families.

Charidy 24 Hour Campaign - eDM Header.jpg


Miracle Babies Foundation

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