Australia

Parent mental health support funding boost

An organisation that offers free counselling to struggling parents is receiving a grant to ramp up its work helping those in rural, regional and remote areas.

New and expectant parents living outside of Australian cities will have better specialised mental health support when they need it thanks to a federal grant.

The Gidget Foundation, which provides support to parents experiencing depression or anxiety, is receiving $300,000 to help expand its work benefiting those in rural, regional and remote areas.

The not-for-profit organisation offers up to 10 free video counselling sessions to new and expectant parents, making it the only dedicated perinatal psychological telehealth counselling service in Australia.

The foundation's chief executive Arabella Gibson said the new funding will go towards the running and promotion of the service, which is available everywhere but particularly valuable for those outside of metropolitan areas.

The program has been running since May and has already had a "phenomenal" take-up, she said.

"It's a whole new service that's available to people who otherwise through the tyranny of distance, the lack of privacy ... just can't find people who either have the skills to support them or they can't get to them," Ms Gibson said.

"Or there's the privacy issues. It might be that the one visiting psychologist coming into town happens to be your brother-in-law's sister's best friend."

Health Minister Greg Hunt said early intervention is key to minimising the impact of mental health issues on mothers and fathers, along with their babies and wider families.

"Asking for help is the first and most difficult step, and many expectant and new parents do not seek the help they need," he said.

"With the right support, people experiencing perinatal mental health issues can get better - allowing them to experience the joy of parenthood and lead happy, fulfilled lives."

Up to one in 10 women experience depression while they are pregnant, while one in seven experience the condition in the year after birth.

For men, about one in 20 experience depression during their partner's pregnancy, while up to one in 10 struggle with the mood disorder in their first year looking after the child.

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