The significant mental health needs of new and expectant parents in Australia are being tackled through ForWhen, a centralised parental mental health helpline which goes live today.
The navigation service is delivered by a consortium of partners consisting of early parenting, health, and family services across Australia.
Designed to simplify and enhance the ways in which parents of young babies can access critical mental health support, ForWhen presents a lifeline to overwhelmed parents in the perinatal period, with the assurance of coordinated and comprehensive mental health triage that refers them directly to the relevant localised service.
Until now, parents like Gabrielle have been tasked with navigating the complex waters of accessing their own mental health care, which for many is an impossible challenge when experiencing mental health concerns and the relentless demands of new or impending parenthood. Gabrielle has collaborated on the program design, contributing insights from her own journey with postnatal psychosis following the birth of her first child.
“Parenthood is a big transition for so many people. One minute it feels like you’re nailing it, and another minute you might feel the opposite.”
“I’m glad the ForWhen initiative will be available for parents across Australia, because it’s important for them to know that they’re not alone, and that this service can connect them to the right support and help them on their journey.”
Crucially, the service caters to expectant and new parents who may already be experiencing perinatal mental illness, as well as those considered to be at risk.
Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said “We’re extremely proud of the ambitious ForWhen initiative which not only coordinates referrals to localised and appropriate care, but also takes an early intervention approach to mitigate the impacts of mental health concerns on parents and their babies. By committing $9.44 million as part of the Australian Government’s Emerging Priorities Grants Program, we hope that appropriate supports can be in place sooner for parents facing the challenges of early parenting.”
Culturally-informed care delivery is embedded into the structure of ForWhen, with the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison Officers and Health Care Workers operating from locations around the country, to ensure that people in rural and remote regions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are linked to the best local options and facilities.
The national helpline also intends to be a timely initiative as partners in the consortium have reported increases of 135% in demand for their services. This reflects that expectant and new parents of the pandemic era are contending with a combination of unprecedented challenges.
Janet Williams-Smith, Director at ForWhen said: “Ensuring we have localised care which captures the skills and needs of regional and remote communities as well as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities, is part of our strategy to not only meet this surge in demand but to address it with the best and most appropriate local expertise, no matter where someone is located.”
Gabrielle added: “Rather than waiting, parents need the right support at the right time. I look forward to having ForWhen become available so that parents can connect wherever they are — no matter where you live, or how much you earn.”
Original content from ForWhen. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.
Nina Alvarez is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel. Her interests include writing, particularly about the healthcare sector and the many ways it can improve to further benefit people from all walks of life.