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Providing individualised and person-centred care

Perinatal mental health care is most effective when there are clear, person-centred and collaborative discussions about referral pathways for management, treatment and follow-up.

There are a range of referral options for people experiencing perinatal mental health challenges, including counselling services, community-based and clinical care options like parent-infant mental health and parenting services.

All expecting and new parents need and deserve access to mental health and wellbeing support during the perinatal period. Ideally, each parents’ community of care includes personal supports (e.g. family and friends) plus a range of healthcare providers supporting all aspects of mental health and wellbeing.

We’ve put together some practical strategies and tools to help you make effective referrals for expecting and new parents that you’re supporting.

Helpful Information

Encouraging people to share their experiences
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Referral and support options at a glance




Perinatal medicine


Parent-infant support


Peer support

Stepped care across perinatal mental health services

Stepped perinatal mental health care spans a broad spectrum of support needs.

People’s support needs often change over time, and they may move between levels of care depending on their individual situation. People’s needs often span multiple levels of the stepped care model. For example, someone might benefit from peer support and self-care strategies during an inpatient admission for mental health.

By referring to (and working with) other integrated services that provide stepped care, you can be highly responsive to the mental health and support requirements of every person in your care.

Below are some examples of perinatal mental health and wellbeing services you can refer to at every level of stepped care. Many health care providers and services work across multiple levels of care.


Step 1: Self-managed care, health promotion and prevention


Step 2: Low intensity and primary care support services


Step 3: Moderate intensity support services


Step 4: High intensity support services


Step 5: Acute care and specialist support services

A range of of supports can help

People often need different supports for their mental health. Some people may start by accessing a helpline, then see their healthcare provider for a mental health treatment referral, and access online peer support while they are waiting for their first appointment or an admission.

Other people start exploring supports online or self-manage their mental health for many months before accessing mental healthcare services.

In all these scenarios, it’s vital that health care providers keep asking about wellbeing, exploring safety, and discussing preferred ways to manage mental health.

Encourage help seeking


Identify and address barriers


Help the person you’re supporting know what to expect


Follow up

Finding personalised support

There are many support options depending on a person’s concerns, circumstances and preferences. Inclusive care is especially important to people who are:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse
  • Living with a disability
  • From a migrant, refugee or asylum seeker background


Tips for providing inclusive and personalised care

How PANDA can help

Download the tip sheet

Providing individualised and person-centred care

“My GP was very empathetic. I was very tearful and exhausted and so grateful that I finally had confided in someone.”


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Everyone’s experience of pregnancy, birth and parenting is unique and brings different rewards and challenges. Our mental health checklist can help you to see if what you’re experiencing or observing in a loved one could be a reason to seek help.