According to the RACGP, perinatal psychiatry has expanded from the traditional focus on mental health in the post-partum period to include a greater understanding that women may become unwell during pregnancy and that the risks to the infant from exposure to illness start before birth. One of the key roles for the general practitioner is to help women with known mental health issues to prepare for pregnancy, as well as identify those at risk and help to guide management choices.
As a referral option, Blackbird, a counselling service on the Sunshine Coast is providing a focus on all issues relating to the emotional adjustment to conception, birth and motherhood, including postnatal depression and anxiety. Blackbird also provide pregnancy counselling for all issues relating to the adjustment to pregnancy, including health, relationship or parenting concerns.
Referral for pregnancy counselling is via a letter or note from a GP. This can be transferred via Medical Objects. Women with a GP Mental Health Care Plan are eligible for a Medicare rebate, after which the out-of-pocket cost is $45.20. For eligibility, women need to be pregnant, or have been pregnant in the past 12 months (including terminations). Women are eligible for a Medicare rebate for three of these sessions and the out of pocket cost with the rebate is $17.80.
The service also specialises in developing Postnatal Recovery Plans for women. The post natal recovery plan is a resource that allows women to voice their concerns about the support they would like to receive immediately after the birth and the first 12 months after. It includes a resource directory with relevant services and E-Resources to assist in the 100+ days after birth. Postnatal Recovery Plans are provided free of charge to women who attend counselling sessions.
Blackbird offers education, counselling and referral to promote health, emotional well being and support in the adjustment to pregnancy, child bearing and the child raising period.
This article was submitted by Eliza Pike is the Director of Blackbird and is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker. She has worked across the mental health field on the Sunshine Coast for the past 20 years and has developed a specialised interest in maternal mental health over the past 10 years. For more information about Blackbird counselling services, visit the website.