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New partnership to support new parents with their mental health

Safeguarding babies in Australian disasters

Charles Darwin University (CDU) and not-for-profit organisation Karitane have today announced a new partnership with a focus on strengthening workforce education and training, and collaborative research in the field of Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PIMH).

As a part of the partnership, Karitane Clinical Nurse Consultant in Perinatal, Infant and Child Mental Health, Karen Hazell Raine, will take on a conjoint position as CDU Nursing and Midwifery Senior Lecturer to develop a portfolio of research to support parental mental health.

Karitane CEO Grainne O’Loughlin said the organisation is excited to be partnering with CDU in the critical space of parenting and mental health initiatives from conception to age five.

“Karitane is delighted to be partnering with CDU at a time full of opportunity for innovative initiatives to strengthen the mental health of parents, young children, and families around Australia and to shape the perinatal mental health workforce of the future,” Ms. O’Loughlin said.

Ms O’Loughlin said the third most common reason for referral to Karitane is for mental health-related issues, highlighting the need for further PIMH workforce development and training.

“Now, more than ever, new and expectant parents are reaching out for support – we have seen significant increases in demand for perinatal mental health care,” she said.

CDU’s Professor in Mental Health and Associate Dean Professor Dan Bressington said that the collaboration between CDU and Karitane will provide positive outcomes for mental health in the community.

“This new partnership will strengthen the perinatal mental health education provision at the university and create opportunities for research that have tangible impacts on mental wellbeing in the NT and beyond,” Professor Bressington said.

CDU Nursing and Midwifery Senior Lecturer from the College of Nursing and Midwifery and Karitane Clinical Nurse Consultant in Perinatal, Infant and Child Mental Health Dr Karen Hazell Raine said her clinical, education and research practice is motivated by the importance of parental mental health.

“I have a keen interest in strengthening the roles of Midwives and Nurses to optimise parent-infant and child mental health and wellbeing, particularly culturally sensitive approaches for Aboriginal, immigrant, and refugee populations,” Dr Hazell Raine said.

Mental illness and stress during pregnancy and the early years of parenting affect one in five mothers and one in ten parenting partners or fathers.

With around 300,000 children born in Australia each year, it’s estimated that over 90,000 parents suffer from mental health issues each year while expecting or caring for a baby.

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