mother & baby mental health units needed in every public hospital in Australia!
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POSTNATAL DEPRESSION, POSTNATAL ANXIETY, POSTNATAL PSYCHOSIS & NEW MOTHERS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS NEED CHANGE.
Queensland has only 1 public mother & baby mental health unit (the lavender unit at GCUH). It can admit only 4 mothers at a time. An average stay is 4-6weeks. That's helping, at best, a mere 48 new mothers a year in Qld. Considering the number of babies born in Qld each year and the high ratio of postnatal mental illness(1in5), this is atrociously insufficient!
I have personally been through this with my third baby. I am one of the 'lucky' ones who did get admitted to the Lavender unit with my 8month old. For 7 months I struggled. I saw doctors and health nurses and continually reached out, unable to access the help I desperately knew I needed. I was always met with the question if I had private health? When the answer was no the responses were that they just didn't have anywhere to help. My condition became so severe that my son and I were separated and I was admitted to hospital without him. My exclusively breastfed baby starved for days as he would not take a bottle despite everyone's efforts. I was repeatedly told there was no where I could go to be able to stay with and feed my baby. That was until someone mentioned the mother baby unit (still only new at the time so not even widely known about). As my baby was starving himself, I got an emergency admittance. I was suicidal, hopeless and my son and I only narrowly survived my illness. We have come a very long way in recovery but the trauma and devastation to our lives still affects our family today, 2 years on. I strongly believe if I had access to a motherbaby unit earlier on, before my condition deteriorated so badly, before I had lost all hope of feeling normal again, that maybe our lives would look very different today.
Australia continues to preach awareness, yet society, the government and health bodies continue to sweep people with these debilitating conditions under the rug but taking no action. This needs to change NOW!
Mothers and vulnerable babies are falling through the cracks of the public health system. These treatable mental illnesses are costing lives, traumatising children and ruining families.
Mothers struggling with their mental health are not getting appropriate treatment when they reach out for help. They are simply being offered medication(that is trial and error), a few phone numbers to call if they want to talk, and a few subsidised counselling sessions ...if they sit through the months on the wait lists!
Conditions are turning chronic and getting severe because they are not being treated early enough, effectively enough and sometimes not treated at all as mothers are left with no choice but to not seek treatment because they either can't/won't leave their new baby or because they can't afford it. Unless they can afford the luxury of private health care, they are falling through the cracks of our public healthcare system. Post-birth, a time when families are down to one income, exhausted, going through huge changes by bringing a new life into the world, we are making it unaffordable and impossible for the unlucky ones who develop severe postnatal mental illness to receive appropriate and effective help. The community uproars anytime there is a postnatal mental health suicide/homicide and calls for 'something to be done', but then go back to their own lives and changes aren't being made to save these lives!
Adequate mental health help should not be a matter of whether or not you can afford it. It's as essential as any other medical illness treatment. If you develop a physical illness you can attend hundreds, thousands of public hospitals for free across Australia and treated asap. Yet if you develop a postnatal mental illness, there is only 1 (ONE!!) public motherbaby unit available in the whole of Qld where you can get help. The unit only can accomodate 4 mothers, and is referral only and quite a process to be accepted into. How is this adequate when 1in5 mothers will be diagnosed with post natal depression?!
It is not enough! It is not okay!!
We as a society are failing mothers!
We are failing babies!
We are failing their families!
We need to step up and make a change!!
Enough talk about awareness, we need action! Please support me in bringing a motherbaby mental health unit to EVERY public hospital in Queensland and Australia!
Our vulnerable mothers and babies need you to speak up for them! Their lives are in your hands.
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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, dedicated citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
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