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.
Referral and support options at a glance
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
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
- Share PANDA’s Talking to Your Doctor’ resource with people in your care.
- Encourage expecting and new parents to complete PANDA’s Mental Health Checklist. They can print the completed checklist and take it to their healthcare appointment.
- Use our website, factsheets and other print resources to educate expecting and new parents and their support people about perinatal mental health and wellbeing. PANDA resources are evidence-based, and informed by the lived experience of our PANDA Community Champions.
- Share real life stories from expecting and new parents, written by PANDA’s community.
- Call the PANDA Helpline: We offer a free Perinatal Mental Health Secondary Consultation service for Australian health care providers.