An innovative, local perinatal mental health partnership has been awarded at Government House

Innovative Partnership

03 October 2013

An innovative, local perinatal mental health partnership has been awarded at Government House

An innovative and flexible approach to perinatal care for parents, families and children under the age of two has been developed out of a need for services in the local area where previously none existed. The New England Medicare Local in partnership with the University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health and St John of God Health Care's Raphael Centre in Blacktown, have been invited to Government House in Sydney.

The team was presented with a Mental Health Matters Award for their joint initiative in the development of the Early Years Outreach Clinic (EYOC) on Tuesday 1 October.The award category recognised excellence and innovation in programs, that focus on preventing mental health problems through encouraging people to seek help early.

The clinic has been designed to put in place early intervention programs for rural families allowing greater access to services that were previously only available in Sydney or Brisbane. The EYOC offers assistance to women experiencing a range of emotional issues during their pregnancy and afterwards including symptoms of depression, grief and loss and anxiety.

A key strength to the development of the service has been the ongoing commitment of those originally involved in the Perinatal Working Party to work consistently to maintain the progress of the EYOC. Developing networks and care pathways were some of the initial work undertaken in establishing the service and this has continued to expand as the numbers of referrals have increased.

The response to the service so far has been positive and effective linkages between service providers across the area have resulted in more timely and appropriate referrals. Referrals have included indigenous families with a small percentage of fathers having also accessed the service.

The University of Newcastle Department Of Rural Health's Mental Health Academic team leader, Fiona Little, said outcomes from the last 18 month evaluation of the EYOC showed more than 150 families had been referred to the service. This makes up 13 per cent of mental health referrals seen within the Tamworth New England Medicare Local Mental Health Service.

"Wait time to access intervention has been consistently low with 75 per cent of referrals seen within two weeks," she said.

"General Practitioners referred 69 per cent of clients to the service however 20 per cent were from midwives and child and family nurses.

"The clinical outcome measures of those referred showed a positive shift in symptoms for all clients who completed treatment with the service."

Read the full story at Medicare Local New England

Contact: Sheena Martin
Contact Phone: +61 2 4921 8714
Contact Email: media@newcastle.edu.au