week 14 of 52 inspirational women

WEEK 14: 52 STORIES OF INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN

The Hidden Crisis in Motherhood and the Solution You Need to Know

This is Frances Bilbao’s Story

WELCOME TO WEEK 14 of 52 Inspirational Stories of Women! The project is designed to recognize 52 inspiring Women, celebrating the everyday women who make a difference in our lives. 

WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?

About 10 years ago, during my early training in the public perinatal mental health sector, I became aware of disturbing statistics about maternal mental health. It is the time in a woman’s life she is most likely to experience a mental health disorder, with 1 in 5 women experiencing a mood disorder during pregnancy or in the first year after birth. Shockingly, 1 in 5 maternal deaths can be attributed to suicide. I also became aware of the lack of affordable support services. Women were struggling to access free public services with minimal spaces and unable to afford expensive private services. Witnessing their suffering was difficult. I thought there must be a way to provide an affordable private service if we set it up right. By creating a lean administrative base and partnering with local councils, we’ve been able to operate using only Medicare bulk-billing, meaning no cost to women. This was the foundation for Mums Matter Psychology.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

As the founder of Mums Matter Psychology, I lead a team of dedicated psychologists who specialize in maternal mental health. We provide therapeutic services and support programs tailored specifically to mothers, addressing the emotional and psychological challenges that come with pregnancy and early motherhood. Our focus is on holistic care, combining evidence-based therapy with empathy and understanding, ensuring every mother receives the support she needs at no cost through Medicare bulk billing.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU?

My inspiration came from my early experiences in the public sector, where I saw firsthand the challenges mothers faced in accessing mental health support. The alarming statistics about perinatal mental health and the lack of affordable services motivated me to create a solution.

Maternal mental health is often overlooked for a few reasons. First, the focus is usually on the baby. We tend to overlook the needs of the mother in general, even physically. It is also seen as a time of joy and may find it difficult to think that there may also be feelings of fear, disappointment, or unhappiness. I think there is a common shame around finding motherhood difficult as we equate this with not being a good enough mother, and fear judgement from others.

At Mums Matter Psychology, we set out to change this by providing a service specifically addressing the challenges of this time in life. By normalizing the need for help and bringing women together in groups, we help mothers share their stories and recognize that they aren’t alone. Educational sessions on common struggles provide information about why these issues occur and how our brains work during the postpartum period, which is a time of significant change for a woman’s brain, even more than during adolescence.

Our services are accessible to anyone in Australia, as we are free (bulk-billed) and deliver services via Telehealth. We can reach any woman, anywhere, as long as she has a telephone or internet connection. Many of our clients have told us they wouldn’t have accessed support if they had to attend in person, especially with a new baby. This accessibility is vital for clients in regional or rural areas where local options are limited.

HOW DO YOU STAY INSPIRED?

I stay inspired by the progress and successes of the mothers who benefit from our services. Their resilience and positive feedback reaffirm my belief in the importance of compassionate mental health care. Its quotes like these from my clients that inspire me to keep going:

My clinician is absolutely amazing. She is professional, caring, knowledgeable, helpful and has been a great support to me as I struggle through depression and severe anxiety. She has provided me with the support and tools I need to stay on top of my health – I’m sure I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her.”
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THAT WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

My advice is to start with a deep understanding of the issue you want to address and remain steadfast in your commitment, even when faced with challenges. Build a supportive network and seek mentorship from those with experience in your field. Listen to the voices of those you aim to help and continuously adapt your approach based on their feedback and evolving needs.

HOW DO YOU GET PAST SELF-DOUBT?

To overcome self-doubt, I remind myself of the positive impact our work has on the lives of mothers. I practice self-care and seek perspective from trusted colleagues and mentors who provide encouragement and constructive feedback. Viewing self-doubt as a natural part of growth helps me use it as motivation to continually improve and deepen my understanding of maternal mental health

WHAT GIVES YOU HOPE FOR THE FUTURE OF WOMEN?

I am hopeful for the future of women because of the remarkable progress in various fields. Women are increasingly taking on leadership roles in politics, business, science, and technology, breaking barriers and setting new standards. The growing emphasis on gender equality and women’s rights worldwide is creating an environment where young girls can aspire to achieve their dreams without the limitations faced by previous generations. The power of community and solidarity among women is also a significant source of hope. Women are supporting each other more than ever, whether through mentorship, advocacy, or grassroots movements, fostering a culture of empowerment and resilience.

There is heightened awareness and conversation about issues that disproportionately affect women, such as gender-based violence, pay equity, and reproductive rights. This awareness is driving legislative changes and social reforms to create a more just and equitable society. Education is another critical factor. As more women gain access to education and opportunities, they are better equipped to challenge the status quo and innovate in ways that benefit everyone. Seeing women excel in traditionally male-dominated fields and industries demonstrates that the future holds endless possibilities. This shift not only benefits women but also enriches our society by bringing diverse perspectives and solutions to the forefront.

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HOW CAN OTHERS FIND OUT MORE?

Frances Bilbao – Mums Matter Psychology Connect on :Facebook | Instagram

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    About the Author

    KARINA PAMAMULL

    A brilliant brunette, effortlessly juggling a plate of crispy fries in one hand while gracefully dancing to the rhythm of life with a glass of fine wine in the other.  I’m the ultimate dopamine hunter, always on the lookout for thrilling new experiences.

    I have worn many hats – a professional Dating Coach responsible for countless love stories, a seasoned General Manager, and the mastermind behind multiple events departments. I’ve successfully orchestrated over 500 events, each one a unique tapestry of connection and celebration. From conferences, and elegant soirées to heart-warming gatherings, each with its own unique story.  I am the successful author of a book called ’52 Stories of Kindness’ with more than 500 copies sold.

    All these fabulous experiences showed me the power of true connections and acts of kindness. They inspired me to create a space where women can uplift, support, and empower one another. WingWomanTribe – the home for women to find friends, connect, and grow with a tribe where they feel fully supported. #liveyourwishlist

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