beyondblue launches new resources to help health professionals identify and treat depression in pregnant women and new mums
Postnatal depression affects one in seven new mothers and almost one in 10 pregnant women
experiences antenatal depression. Anxiety disorders are believed to be even more common.
Today, the Minister for Mental Health, The Hon. Mark Butler launches a new set of free
beyondblue information resources aimed at primary care health professionals, including maternal,
child and family health nurses, to help them detect and discuss depression, anxiety and other mental
health problems with pregnant women and new mothers.
The resources are based on the NHMRC-approved, Clinical Practice Guidelines beyondblue
developed in 2011 for the treatment of depression and related disorders of anxiety, bipolar
disorder and puerperal psychosis in the perinatal period.
In addition, beyondblue has undertaken research with General Practitioners, obstetricians,
midwives and maternal, child and family health nurses about their perceptions, experiences,
responses and perceived barriers to detecting, diagnosing and responding to antenatal and
postnatal depression and anxiety.
beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell AO said: “Health professionals are asking for reliable and
accessible information and training on mental health disorders during the perinatal period. There
are many health professionals in this field who are at the frontline and are in a good position to
recognise and respond to women presenting with depression and anxiety, and we rely on them to
refer these women to their GPs for treatment.”
The latest Depression Monitor survey, conducted every two years by beyondblue, shows that 20
per cent of the population believe that postnatal depression is a normal part of life, while 39 per
cent said they believed depression to be a normal part of pregnancy.
beyondblue Deputy CEO and General Manager of the Perinatal program, Dr Nicole Highet
said: “It is not normal to be depressed during pregnancy. Our research tells us that around 75 per
cent of Australians think that both pregnant women and new mothers should be checked for
signs of depression as they are currently screened for other problems that might occur, such as
diabetes or high blood pressure.
“These new resources will provide health professionals with easily accessible information about
depression, anxiety and related disorders during pregnancy and the first year following birth. We
hope that this will result in more women being checked, more symptoms being detected and more
women getting the help they need,” she said.
Ms Carnell said: “This is important not only for the women, but their families too. Research has
linked PND to higher rates of emotional, cognitive and behavioural problems in children which
can persist through their teenage years. It is imperative that women who are showing signs of
depression and anxiety are treated quickly and effectively in a non-stigmatising, caring
The new resources complement a free, accredited online training program which is also based on the
Guidelines and which almost 2,500 health professionals are undertaking to improve their ability to
recognise, treat and manage these conditions in pregnant women and new mothers.