NEW parents and infants will have greater access to community-based mental health treatment and wellbeing support through a $20 million investment in perinatal healthcare.
Queensland Health will recruit 20 new mental health clinicians across the state who specialise in perinatal and infant mental health to provide timely assessment, support, treatment, and consultation to families during the perinatal period.
The $20 million commitment also includes funding for Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) to deliver a free Intensive Care Coordination service for Queensland families, on top of the existing free Helpline service.
This includes ongoing counselling, consultation, and support to access local services for expecting new parents experiencing complex mental health and wellbeing challenges.
CEO of Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) Julie Borninkhof said the funding means PANDA can provide more intensive specialised care for more vulnerable families and those experiencing more complex mental health conditions.
“They have greater access to counsellors for a longer period and can work with other health care providers supporting the family,” she said.
“Funding also provides increased support to healthcare providers to improve practice and referral pathways for families.
“Everyone needs help at some point in their lives, and everyone deserves compassion and support.”
Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness will also receive funding across five years to deliver peer-led support groups to women and their families experiencing perinatal mental health problems.
CEO of Peach Tree Viv Kissane OAM said it is important to speak up early when it comes to changes in our mental health.
“Peach Tree provides free, friendly support groups and parenting programs and helps connect parents who are experiencing the same thing,” she said.
“The time during pregnancy, birthing a baby and raising a young child is fraught with changes and experiences which are life changing.
“Introducing a new family member is an incredibly profound event for any family, and it is very common for parents to feel overwhelmed and stressed.
“It is also a time of life where experiences of mental health concerns such as ante or postnatal depression and anxiety, PTSD and other mental health conditions are very common – this is something no parent should feel ashamed of.”
This funding announcement coincides with Perinatal Mental Health Week (12 to 18 November), an awareness campaign to increase community knowledge about mental health during the perinatal period. Research suggests that around 15 to 22 per cent of women experience anxiety and/or depression either during pregnancy or following the birth of their baby, or both.