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Free services for new parents struggling with mental health

Posted at 5:20 AM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 21:07:49-04

Oftentimes, new parents aren't sure what's "normal" and what they need to ask for help with, so things can quickly get overwhelming.

There are resources that are out there and it's okay to use them long before you might realize you should.

Southwest Human Development operates the Birth to Five Helpline and staffs professionals to answer calls about anything and everything parenting related from fussy babies to toddler tantrums to parents' feelings. It's a free resource for parents, caregivers, and teachers in Arizona.

"I think we hold the bar too high for asking for help. I don't think we have to be at the height of our worry." said Dr. Alison Steier with Southwest Human Development. She says it is time for new parents to stop feeling like they have to do it all, alone and perfectly.

Her advice is to start by talking to your partner before the baby arrives about expectations for who will do what from changing diapers to feedings to household chores.

When you get to a new parent moment, and they'll come often when you question yourself and your baby, she says to reach out for help instead of trying to sort it out in your own head.

"It doesn't have to be crystal clear. It can be the kind of thing where 'I'm not sure. Something doesn't feel right.' It doesn't take more than that to have a chat." said Dr. Steier.

If your child starts struggling with their routine like their sleep or won't eat for weeks at a time, then it is time to reach out for help because parents and children are so connected, she cautions it will all snowball.

"Overwhelmed, stressed, crying all the time, not knowing what to do." that's how Anna Ochoa said she felt with her first three boys. Nine years later she finds herself a new mom again but this time she's learned how to ask for help.

"I do take my breaks, I believe in self-care, I still take parenting classes." she said.

Ochoa uses the free services through the Arizona Department of Child Services.

Find a list of resources, click here.

You can call the Birth to Five Helpline Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. To 8:00 p.m. at 877-705-kids (5437). You can also leave a voicemail, complete an online contact form, text the helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week or download their app.