Therapies — 15 March 2017
 mother-and-baby-cuddled_1218-550QUEENSLAND women at risk of serious peri-natal mental health issues will be able to receive care without being separated from their babies at a new unit on the Gold Coast.

The Lavender Parent and Infant Unit at the Gold Coast University Hospital will open on March 27, providing the first public mother-and-baby mental health unit in Queensland.

The four-bed unit will provide round the clock care for mothers receiving treatment for serious mental health issues alongside their babies.

Peri-natal psychiatrist Susan Roberts said maintaining that bond between mother and child provided a boost to any mental health treatment a woman received.

“In the past they’ve had to be separated from their infants and be placed in mental health units which leads to a degree of trauma to that separation,” Dr Roberts said.

“Being able to admit mums and their babies together can help build that relationship they’re forming with their babies, build their confidence with their babies and effectively manage their mental illness at the same time.”

Demand for the unit’s four beds is expected to be high with referrals from mental health clinicians determining who will be admitted to the unit.
Conditions to be treated at the unit include severe depression, anxiety or a psychotic illness such as bipolar mood disorder, schizophrenia or post-partum psychosis.

After initial funding of $3.5 million to establish the unit, the Queensland government has committed to provide recurring funding of $4.6 million for the facility.

Health Minister Cameron Dick said there was scope to create further units in other areas of the state if needed.

“We’ll take advice from our leading clinicians, from the chief psychiatrist in Queensland and other leaders in mental health as to how we can expand this,” Mr Dick said.

 “I’m delighted we’ve started this journey to better support women facing post- natal depression.”
This piece was orginally published on ‘The Geelong Guardian’ March 14, 2017.

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