Exploring the views and experiences of callers to the PANDA Post and Antenatal Depression Association Australian National Perinatal Depression Helpline: a cross-sectional survey Academic Article uri icon


  • Anxiety and depression are common in the perinatal period. Telephone interventions, including telephone peer support and counselling, have been developed to support those experiencing perinatal mental illness. PANDA Post and Antenatal Depression Association provides support to women and men experiencing perinatal mental illness via the Australian National Perinatal Depression Helpline, encompassing both volunteer peer support and professional counselling. This study aimed to explore the experiences of callers to the Helpline.A cross-sectional survey design was used. All new callers from 1(st) May to 30(th) September 2013 were invited to participate. The survey, adapted from a previous survey of PANDA callers, included 23 questions using Likert-type scales, demographic and open-ended questions. Thematic network analysis was undertaken for responses to open-ended questions.124 responses were received (124/405; 30% response). The majority of callers had called the Helpline regarding themselves (90%), with over one third (33%) of all callers seeking crisis support and help. Ninety-nine per cent of respondents 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' that staff and/or volunteers understood their concerns, and 97% 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' that overall PANDA had helped them. Callers described the PANDA service as uniquely tailored to the perinatal period, providing accessible, non-judgemental understanding and support, with a global theme from open-ended comments describing PANDA as 'a safe space to be heard and receive support without judgement'. Recommendations for service changes included increased hours of availability.Callers reported positive experiences of accessing support from the PANDA National Perinatal Depression Helpline. The Helpline was described as an accessible and acceptable telephone support for individuals experiencing perinatal mental illness. Recommendations for changes to the service included an increase in hours of operation to enable greater responsiveness at times of need, reduced waiting times, and access to continuity with the same volunteer and/or telephone counsellor. The findings of the study will be useful in informing future service provision, review, and implementation.

publication date

  • 2015