In 2003 the State Government provided funding to address perinatal mental health issues for women and their families. Through this funding, the WA Perinatal Mental Health Unit (WAPMHU) and the State Perinatal Mental Health Reference Group (SPMHRG) were formed. The two groups work together, with the WAPMHU coordinating initiatives and the SPRG providing valuable input from stakeholders. In 2013, WAPMHU changed its name to Women’s Health Clinical Support Unit and formed a new team with the Women's Policy and Projects Unit in line with the Women’s Health Clinical Care Unit’s strategic framework.The WHCSU is staffed by the State Coordinator, Senior Research Psychologist, Research Officer, Senior Health Promotion Officer, Education and Training Officer, Education and Research Project Officer and Administrative Assistant. Key activity areas of WHCSU include:
Research underpins the other four activity areas of the WHCSU. It has enabled the identification of community needs and highlighted gaps in service provision, allowing new services to be implemented and existing services to be expanded. Particular emphasis has been placed on research into the provision of culturally sensitive and relevant services, and interventions that reflect the needs of CALD, Indigenous and rural and remote area communities. Research has also informed the development of training programs and resources that reflect the findings of recent literature. Ongoing evaluation of services and resources is also a priority- since the inception of WHCSU, evaluation frameworks have been embedded in all projects.
A coordinated approach is needed between service providers to ensure that women, babies and their families receive the most appropriate and timely care in the perinatal period. The WHCSU aims to achieve this outcome by developing relationships between both government and non-government agencies. A set of guidelines that will assist service providers is currently being developed.
A number of service expansion projects have been initiated with the aim of delivering interventions for women and their families. Extensive consultation processes ensure that all projects are directed by the needs of local communities and service providers.Projects have included:
The WAPMHU aims to promote best practice in health education as well as the early identification of perinatal mental health issues. Several training programs are offered, including 'Anxiety Disorders in the Perinatal Period (PAD)’ training, 'Use and Misuse of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)' and 'Boodjarri Business: Introduction to Perinatal Mental Health' for Aboriginal Health Workers.
A number of health promotion strategies have been used to improve perinatal mental health in WA. These have included development of community partnerships, attending and hosting community awareness events, production of information materials and websites, and building capacity within community organisations.
The WHCSU also aims to promote the importance of self-care for all parents and the value of ‘speaking up’ about perinatal emotional health and wellbeing (www.JustSpeakUp.com.au).
For more information about the WAPMHU or to enquire about resources or education/training available, please contact us.