Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Awareness Week - November 11-17

Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about perinatal mental health issues within the community. Up to one in five expecting or new mothers and one in ten expecting or new fathers will experience perinatal anxiety or depression.  

This year’s theme is “I wish I knew”.

Many expecting and new parents are blind-sided by realities of becoming parents and looking back, wish they had known more or been better able to prepare for some of the challenges they might have and been better able to cope. 1

Perinatal anxiety and depression is a common mental illness but may go unnoticed with symptoms often dismissed as “normal parts of pregnancy or early parenthood”. In addition, feelings of shame and fear of stigma can lead to sufferers adopting a “mask of coping” 1

Many people don’t seek help as quickly as they should and suffer for longer than necessary because they don’t know what’s happening to them and don’t know where to go to seek help. 


Perinatal anxiety and depression may affect women differently (her feelings and behavior) but the more each woman knows about the condition the more likely that she may recognize what is happening and to seek help.  

Beyond blue has recently updated their consumer perinatal resources.
Resources include:

View flyer for information about ordering these FREE resources for your practice.

What are can health professionals do?  
Health professionals play a key role in identifying those at risk, providing support and assessing whether specific referral or follow-up if required

New clinical practice guidelines for Mental Health Care in the Perinatal Period were released in late 2017 by the Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE) to support health professionals in providing evidence based care for all women in the perinatal period.

Best practice indicates administration of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) to screen women for a possible depressive disorder in the perinatal period. Arrange further assessment of perinatal woman with an EPDS score of 13 or more.

To assess psychosocial risk, administer the Antenatal Risk Questionnaire (ANRQ). This questionnaire can also be used to assess risk in the postnatal period.

These screening tools are listed below

Ref COPE – Centre for Perinatal Excellence

Did you know you there is a MBS item for a Postnatal consultation (16407)
In conjunction with release of the clinical practice guidelines, a new MBS item ‘Postnatal consultation’ (16407) came into effect:

This new MBS Item will ensure all patients receive a mental health assessment ( including screening for drug and alcohol use and domestic violence) during pregnancy at their 6 week check-up, improving early detection and intervention.

The MBS does not prescribe the method by which health professionals undertake mental health assessments for obstetric patients. However, it is recommended that mental health assessments be conducted in accordance with appropriate National Clinical Guidelines, such as the Mental Health Care in the Perinatal Period: Australian Clinical Practice Guideline – October 2017, Centre for Perinatal Excellence .

Additional consumer resources

National helpline ph 1300 726 306.

Counsellors available to speak with expecting and new parents.

Support Service Support ph 1300 22 4636