Anxiety and depression during the perinatal period is estimated to affect up to 20% of mothers and 10% of fathers. That's around 50,000 families in Australia each year. We also know that perinatal anxiety and depression is treatable and that early intervention leads to the best outcomes for women and their families.
The public hospital system routinely screens women during pregnancy, however there is no such support available universally in the private hospital system that services 30% of Australian women who give birth each year.
Since 2010, The Gidget Foundation with our support, has developed and introduced a model for screening for perinatal anxiety and depression in collaboration with North Shore Private Hospital.
The program involves antenatal screening for all first-time mothers attending North Shore Private Hospital for consultation and delivery with women identified as having anxiety and/or depression referred onto support services.
The Emotional Wellbeing Program is currently providing mental health screening during pregnancy to approximately 25 women every week with women who are identified as high risk are referred to further support.
Evaluation of the program to date suggests that women with higher socioeconomic status may be at comparable risk as women in the general population for depression and anxiety during pregnancy. These findings further support the need for systematic screening in all maternity settings, including private hospitals and further underscores the requirement for clear pathways to care for women across the socioeconomic spectrum. The evaluation also showed that some mothers also felt the program provided them with personal resources that have helped them emotionally during the postnatal period.
More Info: www.gidgetfoundation.com.au