Check in on your emotional wellbeing
Late in October 2017, the Australian Clinical Practice Guidelines for Mental Health Care were updated to include the Antenatal Risk Questionnaire which I developed with my team of researchers at St John of God Burwood Hospital.
This questionnaire is used to screen women who are pregnant or have recently given birth for their risk of developing anxiety or depression.
Adding this questionnaire to the national guidelines is a big development in this field as it means that the 300,000 or so Australia women who have a baby each year will now have their emotional wellbeing checked by clinicians during and after pregnancy as a part of their routine maternity and postnatal care.
What this means for you
If you are pregnant or have recently given birth this means that you will now have an emotional wellbeing check in – whether or not you are showing an signs or symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Some clinicians have already been doing these checks, but now it will be routine.
Furthermore, if you are giving birth in the private sector your GP or obstetrician is now also more likely to check in on your emotional wellbeing after the Commonwealth Government decided to fund anxiety and depression screening and psychosocial assessments through Medicare.
What to do if you are concerned
Routine screening of your emotional wellbeing is one key avenue to helping pregnant women and new mums get access to the care and support needed.
However, you can also take steps to access support directly.
If you are concerned about your emotional wellbeing speak to your GP, complete an online self-assessment tool, or contact a support helpline.
- Mother and Baby Unit at St John of God Burwood Hospital, Sydney– the only inpatient perinatal mental health unit in NSW. You can make an admission enquiry online.
- St John of God Raphael Services – community-based perinatal health service for the whole family in NSW, VIC and WA.
- Bupa Mummatters – St John of God Health Care have partnered with Bupa to help support your emotional health during pregnancy and after the birth of your baby to create this online self-assessment tool.
- Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia: 1300 726 306 (Monday to Friday 9.00am to 7.30pm AEST)
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
About Marie-Paule Austin
Professor Marie-Paule Austin is the St John of God Health Care Chair Perinatal and Women’s Mental Health Research Unit, at the University of NSW, Sydney. She specialises in perinatal women's mental health and mood and anxiety disorders at St John of God Burwood Hospital.
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