Admission of women, with their infants, for psychological and psychiatric causes in Victoria, Australia

Authors

  • Jane R.W. Fisher,

    1. Centre for Women's Health, Gender and Society, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Victoria, and Masada Private Hospital Mother Baby Unit, Victoria
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  • Heather J. Rowe,

    1. Centre for Women's Health, Gender and Society, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Victoria
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  • Karin Hammarberg

    1. Centre for Women's Health, Gender and Society, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Victoria
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Correspondence to:
Associate Professor Jane Fisher, Centre for Women's Health, Gender and Society, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010; e-mail: jrwf@unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

Objective: Australia has specialist psychiatric and residential early parenting services (REPS) to which women with postnatal psychiatric illness or psychological difficulties in adjusting to motherhood can be admitted with their infants. The study aim was to ascertain the proportions of Victorian mother-infant dyads admitted to these services in one year.

Method: The numbers of mother-infant dyads admitted to public and private psychiatric and REP services in any 12-month period 2002 – 2004 were collected from publications, annual reports and health-service administrators. When exact data was unavailable, estimates were based on occupancy rates. Birth rates were obtained from Victorian Perinatal Data Collection reports.

Results: About 5.9% of Victorian mother-infant dyads were admitted for psychiatric or psychological causes in 2002: 0.9% to psychiatric and 5.05% to REPS.

Conclusions: Most mother-infant admissions for mental health care in Victoria are to non-psychiatric REPS. Long waiting lists and high occupancy rates suggest unmet need for these services. Lower occupancy rates suggest that Victoria has sufficient specialist psychiatric Mother Baby beds to meet community needs.

Implications: Strengthening the REP sector's capacity to provide mother-infant mental health care might assist realisation of the Australian National Perinatal Depression Initiative's goal of early intervention for women with non-psychotic common postnatal psychological disorders.

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