Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs every June to highlight the importance of babies' emotional wellbeing and development, and promote valuable resources on how to protect and promote babies’ mental health.
The week encourages giving infants, young children and their families the best possible start in early years of life through understanding emotional, physical, cognitive, social and mental health of infants and young children – along with the potential impact of mothers’ mental health on their babies.
As part of a collaboration between the Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHC) at Children’s Health Queensland and the Mater Mothers’ Parenting Support Centre, the Together in Mind program looks to support mothers’ mental health and address these important phases in babies’ life.
Offered through a number of 6-week programs across the year at Mater Mothers’ Hospital, Together in Mind is a perinatal and infant mental health program that specifically provides outpatient care to mothers who have mental health issues.
Perinatal Mental Health Clinician at Mater’s Perinatal Mental Health Service, Den Davies-Cotter said their team – which is made up of clinical staff from adult mental health, child and youth mental health, and maternity services – work to provide a tailored approach to all mothers and their babies.
“One of the first steps is educating parents to help them understand the potential impact of mothers’ mental health on their babies,” he said.
“No matter their stage of pregnancy or parenting, our support teams promote bonding and attachment as key areas to focus on throughout these programs,” Den said.
“By taking a collaborative approach with expertise across a number of disciplines, we can then provide tailored techniques and support to combat these potential issues, and help them through their mental health journey both whilst being pregnant and beyond.”
Child Health Nurse and Lactation Consultant at Mater Mothers’ Parenting Support Centre, Moina Mitchell said mothers present with complex mental health issues for a range of reasons.
“Depression and anxiety can affect anyone and is something we see in a significant cohort of mothers throughout the early postnatal period,” Moina said.
“Whilst these emotional challenges are very common, people are often unaware of the support available to them and many parents can feel alone.”
“The Together in Mind program is an important component in the continuum of care provided to mothers and their babies as it empowers parents to develop an increased awareness of their baby’s signals for physical, emotional and development needs.”
“Families in the program are walking away with an understanding of the connection between themselves and their baby, supported by our team who provide them with just what they need to proceed through their own unique parenting journey.”
The Mater Mothers’ Parenting Support Centre sees up to 18 mothers and their babies each day, offering one on one, tailored assessment and education for parents and their babies 0 – 6 months of age. With the help of the centre’s exceptional staff, Mater can assist new mums and families experiencing mental health issues by offering early screening and intervention.
To make a booking to attend the Mater Mothers’ Parenting Support Centre and
access its free services, please phone 07 3163 2229.