Improved mental health screenings for mums-to-be

Northern suburbs mums-to-be will be the first in South Australia to have access to a new mental health screening platform designed to detect early signs of perinatal depression and anxiety.

Northern Adelaide Local Health Network (NALHN) Women and Children’s Nursing Director, Maeve Downes, said the new iCOPE screening program enables women to complete their screening on a tablet at their prenatal appointment.

“As many as one in five new or expecting mums will experience anxiety in pregnancy, and up to one in 10 will experience antenatal depression, with rates further increasing in the year following the birth of their child,” Ms Downes said.

“If left untreated, there can be significant long-term consequences to mothers and their families. The good news is that the sooner symptoms are detected, the faster treatment can begin, which is why it is important for us to spot the signs early.

“The new platform not only screens for psychosocial risk factors and symptoms of depression and anxiety, but provides feedback, education and support to women about taking care of their mental health during pregnancy and following birth.

“Having access to the latest digital health programs ensures our information and technology is accessible and flexible for everyone in our care.”

NALHN Prenatal Mental Health Nursing and Midwifery Consultant, Dianne Simmons, said the iCOPE program will enhance the current screening process by making it more accessible to all northern suburbs women.

“iCOPE ensures 100 per cent accuracy in scoring, provides automated tailored clinician and patient reports and resources, and facilitates efficient, cost-effective and private screening,” Ms Simmons said.

“The new mental health screening program enables questions and patient reports to be translated and delivered in multiple languages, which will be incredibly beneficial as we have a significant number of Aboriginal and migrant consumers.

“By having the additional benefit of reducing language barriers between consumers and our clinicians, it can also help improve current screening rates among culturally and linguistically diverse mums-to-be.

“We are excited about the benefits the program will bring to women being in our care.” The data collected by iCOPE at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, Modbury Hospital and other northern suburbs community health sites can be used to inform planning and design of future perinatal mental health services.

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