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New federal grants to support the mental health of expectant and new parents

The Morrison government is providing $16.6 million in grants to support the mental health and wellbeing of expectant and new parents through nine new projects.

It is estimated that up to 10 per cent of women experience depression while pregnant, and one in seven women in the year after birth.

Men can also experience perinatal mental illness, with approximately one in 10 expectant and new fathers experiencing depression, anxiety or other forms of emotional distress in the perinatal period.

Among the grants, Karitane – a non-profit leader in parenting services – will receive $9.44 million over four years for its National Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Connect and Care Program.

Separately, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says almost nine out of 10 visits to the GP came at no cost to the patient.

GP bulk billing rates reached an all-time high of 88.7 per cent for the period from July 2020 to March 2021, three percentage points higher than the same period last year.

Across all Medicare services, the bulk billing rate reached 80.9 per cent, an increase of 4.4 percentage points since 2012/13.

Telehealth changes to Medicare introduced for the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to high bulk billing, while also reducing the risk of spreading the disease in the community.

“Our government’s commitment to Medicare and bulk billing remains rock solid,” Mr Hunt said in a statement on Sunday.

“These figures show that we are supporting the health and wellbeing of Australians more than ever before.”

Other grants under the mental health initiative

  • $2.59 million for the University of Newcastle to deliver the SMS4dads digital prevention and early intervention service for fathers, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers, living in rural and remote region
  • $1.36 million for Transitioning Well to develop and deliver digital resources to help owners and operators of small businesses support the mental health and wellbeing of employees who are new or expectant parents
  • $750,000 for the Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE) to review and update Mental Health Care in the Perinatal Period: Australian Clinical Practice Guideline
  • $750,000 for Possums for Mothers and Babies to deliver training and professional peer support for health professionals and new parents in rural communities
  • $650,000 for Western Sydney University to develop and deliver a digital national learning resource to improve the mental health literacy of young mothers
  • $520,000 for Western Sydney University to develop and deliver a perinatal mental health training program for clinicians who provide care for women in pregnancy, birth and the early postnatal period
  • $290,000 for an alliance of perinatal mental health organisations led by the Gidget Foundation Australia to deliver a national awareness campaign held annually in November during Perinatal Mental Health Week
  • $250,000 for the Murdoch University Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity to produce health practitioner training materials and develop a mobile phone-based app version of the Baby Coming You Ready assessment and screening program for Aboriginal women

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