A Caring Counsellor: Interview with Hollie Hall
Eight years ago, Hollie joined the Pacific Post Partum Support Society team. Since then, she has been a valuable resource for thousands of women who find her caring ways and kind voice a source of comfort and support. In this spotlight on one of our own, we chat with Hollie about her job.
What is your role with Pacific Post Partum Support Society?
My role here at the society is telephone support counselor/ group facilitator. I also help with outreach: that is trainings, mom and baby talks and community events.
What do you most enjoy about your work?
I love my job in so many ways, but particularly I enjoy seeing the women who I work with get better. I find that really rewarding and feel really privileged and honored to hear these women’s stories. Also, to be able to share my experiences of having postpartum depression with them and to provide some hope. The other thing is the team here at the society; I work with the most supportive, and amazingly compassionate women.
What are some of the more challenging aspects of your job?
The thing I find most challenging is the gap in resources for many of the moms we support. We are very fortunate to have reproductive mental health here in the lower mainland; however, other places don’t seem to provide that level of support to new moms out there. Also, dads often are left out of the picture, which I feel is frustrating.
In your time at Pacific Post Partum Support Society, what have you found most surprising?
One of the most surprising things that I found when I joined the society was that a tremendous amount of new moms experience anxiety, as opposed to depression. That was the case for myself and was a sort of barrier for getting support sooner.
What inspires you?
I get my inspiration in my life from my husband and my girls. My daughters are part of the reason I do this job. I always talk to moms on the phone and in groups about self-care. I have to “walk the talk” myself in order to be there for them. In turn, my girls are seeing me take care of myself, which is good modeling for them. My mom is also a huge inspiration for me. She suffers from mental illness and she never received the support she needed and deserved when my brother and I were young. I feel that maternal mental health is so incredibly important for the family unit as a whole.
I suffered from prenatal anxiety with my first daughter. Unfortunately, I was feeling quite ashamed and silly for some of my thoughts and worries at that time; I didn’t seek help until my little baby was 4 months old. The society was doing a mom and baby talk, which I attended and got the number for telephone support. I made one of the hardest calls of my life. I went into a group and got better. The second birth was better at first, but a series of events seemed to trigger a much worse episode of anxiety. I went back into another group, went on some medication and saw a psychiatrist at BC Women’s Hospital. That combo was extremely crucial in my recovery.
Having gone through those very dark times, I am who I am today. In my work and in life, I have a better understanding of mental illness and how to take care of myself. I’m better able to set boundaries as well.