• Open Access

The need to evaluate public health reforms: Australian perinatal mental health initiatives

Authors

  • Marie-Paule Austin,

    1. Perinatal and Women's Mental Health Unit, St John of God Health Care; School of Psychiatry; University of New South Wales; and Black Dog Institute, New South Wales
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  • Nicole Reilly,

    1. Perinatal and Women's Mental Health Unit, St John of God Health Care; School of Psychiatry; University of New South Wales; and Black Dog Institute, New South Wales
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  • Elizabeth Sullivan

    1. Perinatal and Reproductive Epidemiology Research Unit, School of Women's and Children's Health, University of New South Wales
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Correspondence to: Professor Marie-Paule Austin, Perinatal and Women's Mental Health Unit, St John of God Hospital, PO Box 261, Burwood, NSW 1805; e-mail: m.austin@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

Objective: To describe the Australian perinatal mental health reforms and explore ways of improving surveillance of maternal mental health morbidity and mortality in this context.

Approaches: We reviewed the Australian perinatal (defined as conception to one year postpartum) mental health reforms, in association with an appraisal of the population health methods that could be used for their evaluation.

Conclusion: Despite the increasing focus of public health reforms on maternal mental health in the perinatal period, there is currently no national data available to evaluate these reforms or to provide an evidence base for improved health outcomes. National data development and linkage of relevant datasets would go a long way towards enabling such an endeavour.

Implications: Inclusion of key mental health items in the Perinatal National Minimum Dataset and use of data linkage techniques will allow for monitoring of trends in maternal mental health morbidity and mortality in response to the Australian reforms. Once this is implemented, cost-benefit analyses can be undertaken.

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