$650,000 for western Sydney to help young mothers’ mental health

Project team leads Dr Ashwini Padhi, Sumithira Joseph, Rowena Saheb and Professor Bill Brakoulias.

One in five Australian mothers experience mental health problems during pregnancy or soon after birth, but a new partnership in western Sydney is aiming to help those most vulnerable.

The Australian Government has awarded $650,000 to a research project aimed at improving young mothers’ mental health literacy – a partnership initiative between Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Perinatal Child Youth Mental Health Service and Western Sydney University.

An innovative new national digital resource for mothers aged 24 and under will be created thanks to the project with our mental health clinicians teaming up with other clinicians, academics and young mothers with lived experience of mental health.

This new resource aims to support young mothers better understand their own mental health, normalise seeking help, and help put mums and their children on-track for a healthy life.

WSLHD mental health executive director Professor Bill Brakoulias said this means young mums will recognise the warning signs and know how to get help.

“Young mothers at higher risk of mental health issues will be able to increase their understanding of wellbeing and the services available to support their mental health at a vulnerable time. This will improve outcomes for them and their families.

“The opportunity for our Perinatal Child Youth Mental Health Service clinicians to use their expertise to build capacity nationally will further enhance our status as a leading provider of high quality and specialised mental health services for mothers across the state,” Prof Brakoulias said.

Once complete, the innovative resource will be freely available for young parents to access in their own time across Australia.

It is a priority of the project team to actively engage mothers from diverse and at-risk populations including migrant, refugee and Indigenous mothers, to ensure the resource is culturally appropriate and accessible.

The project is part of a $16.6 million investment into perinatal mental health services announced by the Australian Government this month.