Boost for peri-natal project

Swan Peri-natal and Infant Mental Health Project officers Kristie Ponchard and Kim Hamilton with mums Andrea Shakles, Ebony Ward and Jo Saunders and their babies. Picture: Bruce Hunt d409382
Swan Peri-natal and Infant Mental Health Project officers Kristie Ponchard and Kim Hamilton with mums Andrea Shakles, Ebony Ward and Jo Saunders and their babies. Picture: Bruce Hunt d409382

The peri-natal period ” from conception until 12 months after childbirth ” is a time when women are at increased risk of developing mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.

Last year, the MHC and St John of God Health Care jointly funded $100,000 for a project officer for extra infant and perinatal mental health care due to surging birth rates in the City of Swan.

WA Mental Health Commissioner Eddie Bartnik said the project officer was linked to the local Ellenbrook Perinatal Mental Health Working Group, which identified significant needs for more accessible peri-natal and infant mental health services.

The high number of young parents, fly-in-fly-out workers, new immigrants and Aboriginal families boosted this demand.

‘The project has achieved important outcomes, including consultation with 500 stakeholders and community members; completion of a Community Assessment Report with 15 recommendations relating to clinical service provision, health promotion, workforce development, communication and referral process,’ he said.

‘In light of those good outcomes, the Mental Health Commission has committed to provide a further 12 months of non-recurrent grant funding in 2013-14, so the project can continue until May 31, 2014.

‘This equates to $78,000, or 75 per cent of the costs, with St John of God Health Care to cover the remaining 25 per cent.

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said early childhood was the most important developmental stage for promoting good mental health in the young, and the government was committed to early prevention mental health services.

‘This project is a critical step towards ensuring that women experiencing perinatal stress, anxiety and depression ” and their babies ” will have access to good mental health services, and it will pave the way for more broadly based services,’ Ms Morton said.

Mr Bartnik said phase two of the project would aim to apply an education and training plan for local health professionals working in the perinatal and infant mental health area.