Young mothers at risk of perinatal mental health issues will have instant access to expert advice following the launch today of a new mental health awareness online resource by the Minister for Mental Health, Kevin Humphries.

Mr Humphries said National Postnatal Depression Awareness Week, which begins today, was the perfect time to launch the innovative website

“The perinatal period – including pregnancy and year following childbirth – is a time of great change for woman, their partners and families,” Mr Humphries said.

“It is because of this that a woman is more likely to suffer a mental illness following childbirth that at any other time in her life. Fathers and partners can also experience depression and anxiety around the time of pregnancy and parenting.

“Perinatal mental health issues can have a profound and devastating impact on a mother, her baby and her family.

“Of all new mothers in NSW each year it is estimated that four per cent, or about 3900 women, will be referred to specialist mental health services and around ten to 15 per cent, or 9700 to 14,500 women, will be referred to primary health care services for treatment for mild to moderate depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.

“This valuable new online resource aims to help young mothers and fathers by raising awareness of mental health problems during pregnancy and early parenting and highlighting positive strategies that can help people if they are not feeling well.”

Mr Humphries said the website provided targeted mental health awareness information for young parents.

“Using a unique and creative look, this new website provides young parents with expert information and easy to follow case study examples”, Mr Humphries said.

“There are visual, video and audio elements that are mobile phone compatible as well as regular automatic newsletters delivered throughout pregnancy and early childhood to keep young families linked in to support and advice.”

“These services are an outstanding complement to the State-wide Outreach Perinatal Service, which I launched last year and which provides more intensive support to new mothers and their families across NSW who are experiencing mental health problems.”

Mr Humphries encouraged people to use National Postnatal Depression Awareness Week to find out more about perinatal mental health issues.

“Let us use this week to work together to increase knowledge about antenatal and postnatal depression and other mental illnesses experienced during the perinatal period, and in doing so help break down the stigma so that more and more people are encouraged to seek help.”