Oncologist Dr. Belinda Yeoh and a patient


Finding help with MumSpace

Delivering free online mental health resources to mothers where and when needed

Perinatal depression and anxiety awareness week is from 11 to 17 November 2018. It aims to support the mental and emotional wellbeing of expecting and new parents, including the signs to look for and where to seek support.

MumSpace is an innovative website helping prevent and treat depression in pregnant women and new mums across Australia.

Up to 20 per cent of pregnant women and new mums in Australia (around 60,000 people) experience significant depression annually. If untreated, it can have devastating impacts on families, relationships and the long-term health and wellbeing of affected women.

The Parent-Infant Research Institute (PIRI) at Austin Health led a consortium of experts to develop MumSpace, which is already delivering outstanding results, improving access to care, and empowering women to manage their own mental health.

Launched in late 2017, MumSpace contains resources for the prevention and treatment of perinatal depression and anxiety, including world-first online treatment programs, and addresses some of the major challenges in care for perinatal depression. The primary objective was to connect new mums with the emotional support and services they need to manage the challenges of parenthood, in their own time and in their own way.

“I didn’t realise that feeling tired, frustrated, tearful and overwhelmed were the signs and symptoms of depression. I just thought I was not coping. Since getting some help, I recognise these can be part of depression. Now I look at things differently and I feel I will be the mum and partner I want to be.”

– New mum

The perceived stigma of not coping, the struggle to get to appointments, and the limited availability of specialist perinatal psychology services in rural and regional Victoria meant that women were not getting the care they needed.

For women with perinatal depression, uptake of treatment is poor with only 30-40 per cent taking up treatment. Evidence shows that women are often unable or reluctant to seek help, or may not even realise they are suffering from depression. Access to services can be difficult and, for many, prohibitively expensive.

The power of MumSpace is that women can use the tool where and when they need it, regardless of their location. In addition, the MumSpace website, the tools it provides, and the smartphone app are all free, significantly improving access.

Compared with face-to-face mental health care, online mental health treatment provides a platform that has extensive reach and is highly cost effective.

More than 14,000 people have visited the site, with the majority starting with the self-assessment page, which establishes the level of support women need and directs them to the right programs and tools.

Almost 800 women have accessed the two programs available via MumSpace to treat perinatal depression, MumMoodBooster and Mum2bMoodBooster for pregnant women.

To find out more about MumSpace head to www.mumspace.com.au. To get the app, simply search ‘MindMum’ on your smartphone to download.