$20 million boost for community-based mental health support to help new parents and their babies

Published Sunday, 12 November, 2023 at 11:50 AM

Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

  • Queensland Health has committed more than $20 million in funding to increase community-based perinatal and infant mental health support and treatment
  • 20 new mental health clinicians, who specialise in perinatal and infant mental health, are being recruited
  • The funding also supports Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) and Peach Tree.

New parents and infants will have greater access to community-based mental health treatment and wellbeing support thanks to a $20 million investment in perinatal healthcare.

Queensland Health will recruit 20 new mental health clinicians across the state who specialise in perinatal and infant mental health to provide timely assessment, support, treatment, and consultation to families during the perinatal period.

The $20 million commitment also includes funding for Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) to deliver a free Intensive Care Coordination service for Queensland families, on top of the existing free Helpline service.

This includes ongoing counselling, consultation, and support to access local services for expecting new parents experiencing complex mental health and wellbeing challenges.

Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness will also receive funding across five years to deliver peer-led support groups to women and their families experiencing perinatal mental health problems.

This funding announcement coincides with Perinatal Mental Health Week (12 to 18 November), an awareness campaign to increase community knowledge about mental health during the perinatal period. Research suggests that around 15 to 22 per cent of women experience anxiety and/or depression either during pregnancy or following the birth of their baby, or both.

This funding is part of the broader Queensland Government investment of more than $89 million for perinatal and infant mental health support under Better Care Together, Queensland’s plan for state-funded mental health, alcohol and other drug services to 2027.


Quotes attributable to Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women, Shannon Fentiman:

“We know that having a baby is an incredibly joyous time for new parents, but it can also be very stressful.

“One of the best gifts we can give new parents is support, and providing access to early care for parents and infants during the perinatal period to protect their mental health and wellbeing is invaluable.

“As suicide in the perinatal period is the leading cause of maternal death in the world, and in Australia, access to timely assessment, treatment and preventative mental health support is crucial.

“This further investment is part of our Better Care Together Plan and will support 20 new mental health clinicians that specialise in perinatal and infant mental health and provide increased investment to both PANDA and Peach Tree.

“The wellbeing of new parents and their infants during the perinatal period is of utmost importance to me, and I am proud the Queensland Government is delivering on our commitment to improve services across the state.”

Quotes attributable to CEO of Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA), Julie Borninkhof:

“The funding provided to PANDA by the Queensland Government means we can provide more intensive specialised care for more vulnerable families and those experiencing more complex mental health conditions.

“They have greater access to counsellors for a longer period and can work with other health care providers supporting the family.

“Funding also provides increased support to healthcare providers to improve practice and referral pathways for families.

“Everyone needs help at some point in their lives, and everyone deserves compassion and support.”

Quotes attributable to CEO of Peach Tree, Viv Kissane OAM:

“We know how important it is to speak up early when it comes to changes in our mental health, so it’s important to let people know there are some great services out there to help.

“Thanks to Queensland Government funding, Peach Tree provides free, friendly support groups and parenting programs and helps connect parents who are experiencing the same thing.

"The time during pregnancy, birthing a baby and raising a young child is fraught with changes and experiences which are life changing.   

“Introducing a new family member is an incredibly profound event for any family, and it is very common for parents to feel overwhelmed and stressed. 

“It is also a time of life where experiences of mental health concerns such as ante or postnatal depression and anxiety, PTSD and other mental health conditions are very common. This is something no parent should feel ashamed of. 

“Peach Tree works from a village building approach, not only offering targeted mental health support to individuals, but offering social connection and a place to belong in our Parent Wellbeing Centres."