In 2019, PANDA joined a number of key organisations in the perinatal mental health space – Gidget Foundation Australia, Peach Tree Perinatal Mental Wellness and Perinatal Wellbeing Centre – and research partner PwC to investigate the cost of perinatal anxiety and depression in Australia.
Announced in November, the research found that perinatal anxiety and depression is costing Australia $877 million annually. It also revealed that, in the first year, the economic costs alone equal $643 million as a result of productivity losses associated with increased workforce exit, absenteeism, presenteeism and carer requirements.
As Julie Borninkhof, CEO of PANDA said: “The report updated research PANDA conducted in 2012 in collaboration with Deloitte Access Economics and confirmed what we already knew: that perinatal mental illness is a common and serious issue that can have far-reaching impacts on individuals and families and also burdens the community in a range of complex ways, including economically.”
“The findings of the report illustrate the critical role played by organisations like PANDA, Gidget Foundation, Peach Tree and Perinatal Wellbeing Centre in supporting expecting and new parents to recover from perinatal mental illness. Our work helps keep families strong while also reducing immediate and lasting costs to the community.”
PANDA is grateful to PwC and the other members of the Perinatal Mental Health Consortium for their commitment to building key knowledge in the area of perinatal mental health and for advocating for more effective systems to support expecting and new parents affected by mental illness.
Research to reduce high suicide rates in pregnant women and new mums
This year, PANDA also received funding from the Federal Government’s Suicide Prevention Research Fund managed by the national peak body for suicide prevention, Suicide Prevention Australia, to conduct research to help build understanding of the factors contributing to suicide attempts in pregnant women and new mums.
Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death in Australia during pregnancy and the 12 months following birth. This is despite the fact that women in this period have regular contact with care providers including midwives, GPs, obstetricians, and maternal health nurses.
The research, to commence in early 2020, aims to develop effective ways to assess and manage suicidal risk in this vulnerable group.
The first-of-its-kind study aims to explore and explain women’s experiences of suicidality during pregnancy and the year following birth, a time known as the perinatal period, with the ultimate aims of:
- Understanding factors that may contribute to suicide at this time in women’s lives
- Identify factors protective against suicidal behaviours
- Informing suicide prevention strategies for women during pregnancy and the year after birth
PANDA will join Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and James Cook University to collaborate on the study. PANDA’s central role will ensure that people who have experienced perinatal suicidality are meaningfully involved throughout the life of the project by contributing to the study design, data collection and analysis, and the communication of key findings.
MCRI is a globally recognised research centre, ensuring the rigorous and robust research results will be directly translatable, changing clinical practice to improve outcomes for this at-risk group.
The 12-month project will begin recruiting participants in early 2020, with the results leading to larger scale studies and pilot interventions.