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Australian Psychologists Call For More Parent Mental Health Support

Psychological Society is urging the government to expand Medicare so that new parents can have more mental health support

MELBOURNE, Australia — Australian psychologists are calling for Medicare to be expanded so new parents receive better mental health support, which will in turn improve their child’s wellbeing.

As Australia’s universal healthcare insurance scheme, Medicare ensures that all Australian citizens can get access to a broad spectrum of healthcare and hospital services at minimal or zero cost.

Ahead of May 11 federal budget the Australian Psychological Society is highlighting the health issues parents face in the period immediately before and after birth.

Founded in 1966, The Australian Psychological Society is a professional association of psychologists in Australia that strives to help systems, individuals, and communities with the help of their psychological services.

The society’s president Tamara Cavenett says depression and anxiety affect one in seven women in the perinatal period, the time shortly before and soon after birth.

Depression and anxiety for such women are associated with an increased risk of preterm delivery, reduced mother-infant bonding and delay in development for the child.

“Support and intervention in this period has a positive social and economic impact throughout the lifespan of the child,” Cavenett said.

“Better outcomes for parents mean better outcomes for children.

The society’s president Tamara Cavenett says depression and anxiety affects one in seven women in the perinatal period, the time shortly before and soon after birth. (Eric Ward/Unsplash)

“We need to help parents as early as possible for their own mental health, but also the impact that this can have on their child’s wellbeing.”

She says the coronavirus pandemic and associated social isolation have had a huge impact on the mental health of the already vulnerable group.

As per the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 7.5% of government health expenditure was spent on mental health-related services in 2018–19, an annual average reduction of 1.1% since 2014–15.

The Gidget Foundation Australia has reported a 122 percent increase in pregnant women and 6678000new mums seeking support this year.

Calls to the maternal mental health organization’s national helpline doubled in 2020.

The foundation was set up by the family and friends of an Australian woman nicknamed Gidget, who took her own life while experiencing postnatal depression.

The foundation provides free specialist psychological treatment services for families suffering emotional distress during pregnancy and early parenting.

On World Maternal Mental Health Day, The Gidget Foundation tweeted that 1 in 5 new mothers go through perinatal depression and anxiety every year.

They mentioned that the cost of perinatal depression and anxiety in Australia in year 1 is AUD 877 million ($682 million), breaking it down to AUD 227 million ($176 million) as Health Cost, AUD 643 million ($499 million) as Economic Costs, and AUD 7 million ($5.4 million) as Wellbeing Costs.

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Nikita Nikhil)