Two new eight bed Mother & Baby Units to be established at Royal Prince Alfred and Westmead Hospitals in Sydney will enable new mums affected by severe mental health difficulties to receive treatment while also caring for their babies.
PANDA welcomes the announcement today of the site for NSW’s first public, purpose-built Mother & Baby Unit (MBU) next to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown.
“This is an important step to ensuring appropriate care and treatment for mothers and their babies in NSW when an acute hospital admission is necessary due to perinatal mental illness,” said PANDA CEO Julie Borninkhof.
“In NSW at the moment there are no public MBUs, only a private one, so most expecting or new mothers with severe or acute mental illness who need to go to hospital are cared for in general mental health inpatient/psychiatric units and are separated from their babies. This can add to her stress levels and also impact how she bonds with her baby.”
“PANDA has been advocating to the NSW Government for many years to fund public MBU’s in NSW. We know from calls to our National Helpline that there is a pressing need in NSW for affordable inpatient care to support new mothers experiencing serious mental illness.”
“This specialist care will help the mum’s recovery while also helping her develop a crucial bond with her new baby.”
The new Unit will be funded as part of the $700m NSW State-wide Mental Health Infrastructure Program. MBUs provide in-patient care for mothers who are experiencing psychiatric illness in the perinatal period, together with their baby, with a strong focus on both maternal and infant health and emotional wellbeing.
Mother of two Amanda Walsh experienced postnatal psychosis in 2010, a serious psychiatric illness that required her to spend five days in an acute care Mental Health Unit. She became a volunteer PANDA Community Champion to raise awareness about this acute perinatal mental illness, and believes being able to access a publicly funded MBU would have changed the entire trajectory of her illness.
“I could not afford private health insurance at the time,” she said. “I never thought the announcement of a new hospital facility could ever mean so much to me. The announcement of NSW’s first MBU is cause for huge celebration and thanks, a ’game changer’ for all mothers and families who experience post-natal mental illness.”
“This now means that mothers, babies and families can receive optimal and best practice care for perinatal mental illness and mentally unwell mums won’t experience that common and frightening thought that ‘my child has been taken away because I am an unfit mother’ . It means that partners and extended family can also be supported during this hugely traumatic time.”
Ms Borninkhof said: “We commend the NSW Government for funding these critical support services at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown to enable NSW mums and their babies to access specialist public hospital beds to help them recover from perinatal mental illness.”
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