Oncologist Dr. Belinda Yeoh and a patient


Improving postnatal depression outcomes

Improving postnatal depression outcomes

18 December 2018

A project led by Austin Health's Parent-Infant Research Institute aiming to improve health outcomes for women suffering postnatal depression has received a $350 000 boost via a Partnership grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Professor Jeannette Milgrom, Executive Director of the Parent Infant Research Institute (PIRI) at Austin Health, said the project will assess the effectiveness of a new system that helps guide health professionals to detect and develop plans to manage postnatal depression.

"Almost 20 per cent of new mums or mothers to be in Australia experience some level of depression each year," Professor Milgrom said.

"This means approximately 60 000 women are diagnosed every year with depression in the lead up to childbirth or in the weeks and months afterwards.

"Of this 60 000 women, only 10 per cent receive an effective treatment and we know even more cases in the community are going undetected.

"The Parent Infant Research Institute at Austin Health has developed an online support system to guide healthcare professionals to ask the right questions when screening patients to help identify women who may be impacted by depression.

"This support system, known as PIRIMID, also uses onscreen prompts to help clinical staff develop a tailored management plan to treat each patient based on their individual symptoms and needs.

"Australia has made big strides in recognising perinatal depression, but the real challenge now is connecting affected women with the right treatment. This is what the new PIRIMID system does," she said.

Professor Milgrom said the project funded via the NHMRC grant is being rolled out in partnership with Beyond Blue, the City of Whittlesea Maternal and Child Health Service, Melbourne Clinical & Translational Sciences at University of Melbourne and Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia.

"We believe that increasing the uptake of treatment for postnatal depression will have a profound impact on the wellbeing of new mothers," she said.

"The project will involve 1650 new mums over a three year period and we will be measuring both the increase in the number of postnatal women accessing treatment for depression and the impact on their mental health," Professor Milgrom said.

Beyond Blue Board Director Professor Michael Kidd AM said: "Beyond Blue is extremely pleased to be partnering with some of Australia's leading health and medical researchers to carry out important and impactful research which will support improvements in the mental health of people in Australia.

"Beyond Blue is delighted to invest in this world class health and medical research project on perinatal identification, referral and integrated management for improving depression being undertaken by The Parent-Infant Research Institute at Austin Health."