A new $2.4million facility will be built at King Edward Memorial Hospital to treat mothers suffering from post-natal depression and other mental health problems.
Health Minister Jim McGinty said the Mother and Baby Unit would help about 140 women a year recover from mental health problems during and after their pregnancy.
“One in seven Western Australian women becomes depressed during the post-natal period, so it is vital that they are offered as much counselling and assistance as possible to help them cope during this challenging time,” Mr McGinty said.
The eight-bed mother and baby unit will be a residential-style facility with secure bedrooms, nursery, lounge and family rooms, kitchen, laundry, activity areas and therapy suites.
“The unit will provide support to women suffering from post-natal depression in a homelike environment where they can care for their baby while they prepare to return home,” the Minister said.
“Currently, the only mental health facility available for new mothers suffering from post-natal depression is a three-bed unit at Graylands Hospital which can treat up to 40 women a year.”
Mr McGinty said research showed that mothers suffering from depression could also have a negative and long-term effect on their children and partners.
“A staggering 40 per cent of men whose partner suffers post-natal depression will have symptoms of depression themselves, so the new unit will help the whole family,” he said.
The Minister said mothers who were treated for post-natal depression had played a major role in the design of the new unit and the clinical services that would be offered.
He said video-link facilities at the unit would enable hospital staff to counsel mothers and advise doctors in rural and remote areas.
“Currently women in regional WA suffering post-natal depression access metropolitan-based counselling through a telephone service,” Mr McGinty said.
“The new system will allow women to have face-to-face contact with experienced clinicians who will be able to talk to them and provide assistance in the company of their doctor, partner or family.
“By working with families and clinicians in regional communities, it is less likely that women experiencing anxiety disorders, depression and other mental illnesses will have to be transferred from their home towns and admitted to the unit.
“Improving mental health services is one of the top priorities in health for the Gallop Government and we are determined to offer the best possible care to new mothers to ensure they receive the support they need.”
Construction on the new unit is expected to begin in January 2006 and to officially open in July 2006.
The mother and baby unit is part of the Gallop Government’s Mental Health Strategy, which allocated an additional $173million over the next three years to improve mental health services across the State.
"The Gallop Government is improving the quality of services to all Western Australians wherever they live," Mr McGinty said.
Minister's office: 9220 5000