Western Sydney University, in partnership with Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Perinatal Child Youth Mental Health Service, has been awarded $650,000 from the Australian Government’s Perinatal Mental Health and Wellbeing Program to develop a national resource to support young mother’s mental health.
The project will address perinatal mental health by creating an online and interactive learning resource that focuses on young mothers, particularly those at higher risk of mental health conditions, such as Indigenous, migrant and refugee women, women with disabilities, young women who have been in out-of-home-care and those experiencing poor mental health in adolescence.
Project lead Dr Arianne Reis, from the University’s School of Health Sciences and Translational Health Research Institute, said the project importantly represents a collaborative and tailored approach to improving the mental health of mothers, including those most vulnerable in our communities.
“We’re very pleased about the opportunity to gather together expertise from researchers, online teaching and technology specialists, clinicians, community practitioners, and young mothers from all walks of life to develop a resource that truly speaks to their needs and wants,” said Dr Reis.
“Addressing the high level of mental health issues we are experiencing as a community in Australia is everyone’s problem and can only be solved through inclusive and collaborative initiatives, and this is what this project will be able to do.”
Dr Reis explains that one in five Australian mothers experience perinatal mental health problems, and despite online resources focusing on perinatal support being available, many do not account for the specific challenges and context of motherhood at a young age.
“Improved mental health literacy has been associated with positive help-seeking behaviour, reduced stigma, and higher resilience in families affected by poor mental health, leading to improved mental health outcomes.”
“With this in mind, perinatal health services across Australia are increasingly creating resources for their communities to support mental health awareness – this new resource will take the next step towards reaching and supporting a diverse community of young mothers.”
The project will involve three phases, with a pilot delivery across NSW before a nation-wide roll-out in the last phase in early 2024. Over 100 young mothers from different backgrounds across the country are expected to be involved in the co-creation of the resource.
The project will be delivered in collaboration with a consortium of partners. These include Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA), NSW Council for Pacific Communities, NSW Department of Communities and Justice and WentWest Primary Health Network.