Raphael Services Ballarat is partnering with Western Victoria Primary Health Network (PHN) to host the first perinatal and infant mental health conference in Ballarat on Saturday (18 November 2017). The conference will bring together a team of experts who will present contemporary views for clinical consideration and new treatments for improving outcomes.

Anxiety and depression during the perinatal period (before, during and after pregnancy) is more common than many people realise. As many as 1 in 5 expecting or new mums and up to 1 in 10 dads are affected by anxiety and depression, and it is thought that around 100,000 families across Australia are impacted every year.

St John of God Raphael Services, which offers specialised perinatal and infant mental health (PIMH) support and treatment, will host the first Grampians Perinatal Infant Mental Health Conference during Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week (12 – 18 November).

Dr Harish Kalra, Clinical Director for Raphael Services Ballarat said this was the first time the region would host an event specifically for health professionals to discuss emotional wellbeing issues, trends and practices in relation to new or expecting parents.

“This is a significant step towards greater collaboration of PIMH agencies across the Grampians region.

“The conference will bring together experts from across the field to share insights, practice and research to encourage change, better care and reduce community stigma linked to the illness,” he said.

Dr Leanne Beagley, CEO Western Victoria PHN said that continuity of care for a pregnant woman with a mental health condition is paramount, both for her and for the early development of connection and relationship with her baby.

“At Western Victoria PHN we see that multidisciplinary collaboration is very important; that a pregnant woman at risk receives the right care from her GP through to different health services and supports within her community.”

Professor Bryanne Barnett AM, Clinical Director for Raphael Services New South Wales and one of the conference keynote speakers, has published extensively in this field. She is a tireless advocate for early intervention, prevention and health promotion to reduce the effects of PIMH.

“Being pregnant or becoming a parent brings so many new challenges; psychological, social and physical.

“Providing the right support and treatment for parents experiencing anxiety and depression is crucial to a healthy parent-infant relationship and the family as a whole,” she said.

“This event provides a great opportunity for like-minded professionals to collaborate and integrate to support the emotional health and wellbeing of parents and families in our communities.”

With an impressive line-up of speakers the event is expected to attract a number of GP’s, mental health nurses, maternal and child health nurses, obstetricians and allied health professionals.

Speakers include:

  • Dr Vijay Roach, Vice-President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Chairman of the Gidget Foundation
  • Catherine Knox, Director of the Gidget Foundation
  • Professor Anne Buist, Professor of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne
  • Dr Jane Fisher, Jean Hailes Professor of Women’s Health, Monash University
  • Conjoint Professor (UNSW) Bryanne Barnett AM, Clinical Director for Raphael Services New South Wales.

The Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Conference is being held at:

Mercure Hotel
613 Main Road, Ballarat
9am to 5 pm

For further information and contact to spokespersons please contact:

St John of God Raphael Services

  • Cathy Sever on (08) 9213 3610 (office hours)
  • Rachael Micallef-Jones on 0426 967 586.

Western Victoria PHN

  • Helen Kostiuk on 0413 754 606.


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