Mental health emergency: Families in the West desperate for relief

With less than a month until the Victorian State Election, regional advocacy group LeadWest and family support agency the Caroline Chisholm Society, are calling on the Victorian Government to take action and develop a Perinatal Mental Health Plan for vulnerable new families, ahead of the proposed Royal Commission into Mental Health.

1 in 10 women experience depression and anxiety during pregnancy and 1 in 7 women suffer from these diseases during the first year after birth. With 250 babies born in Melbourne’s West each week, support centres like the Caroline Chisholm Society are struggling to keep up with the growing demand for perinatal mental health support.

“Every year more than 500 families with young children seek support and care from the Caroline Chisholm Society. They tell us they’re struggling to get by,” said Helen Cooney, CEO of the Caroline Chisholm Society.

“For many mums in the West, organisations like ours are their only source of support. But with our population booming, the number of people seeking our help is only going to rise. We need to support those in the community who are trying to stem this tide.

“We often see new mums struggling with homelessness, family violence and social isolation, but the most pressing issue for those who come to us is undoubtedly perinatal mental health.

“There are many reasons for perinatal ill health including isolation due to poor public transport, not having access to a family support network, and even the transition to parenting in itself.

“This is something that can be addressed by developing a Victorian Perinatal Mental Health Plan. This would relieve the increasing pressure faced by struggling families and service providers here in the West.

“We are calling on our MPs to address this urgent issue ahead of November’s State Election. Vulnerable families in the West are counting on them to deliver a Perinatal Mental Health Plan to support our growing number of new families,” said Ms Cooney.

 

Generation West spokesperson Councillor Samantha Byrne agreed.

“The population here in the West is booming. Services need to be expanded so families experiencing challenges don’t fall through the gaps,” said Ms Byrne.

“The West needs well-trained social and health professionals who can help mothers to support each other through their children’s first 1000 days of life.

“We’re calling on the Victorian Government to invest in the West’s future by developing a perinatal mental health plan for new families before and after birth.

“Our MPs need to support families in the West to give every child the same chance at a happy, healthy childhood,” said Ms Byrne.

 

Read more about the Generation West campaign: https://bit.ly/2pVeWTi

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Rosina Rayns, 0401 991 792