Despite these challenges there are some incredible services being delivered for parents and their infants. Many of these services are linked in to and supported by the Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (QCPIMH), a statewide hub of expertise in this area. The centre is based in a cottage on a residential street in North Brisbane and from the outside looks a lot like a nursery or children’s centre. However, inside, the centre is providing something unique to Queensland residents.
On the other side of the building QCPIMH have something a little different going on. Alongside the clinical unit, they have a Strategy and Service Development Unit. This is a statewide service providing leadership, consultation and support to perinatal and infant mental health services across the whole of Queensland. The unit employs two Service Development Leaders, both clinicians themselves, whose aims are to achieve change in four priority areas: service development and implementation, workforce development, mental health promotion and prevention, and evaluation and research.
What this translates to is a whole range of different functions, including providing centralised leadership across different sectors involved in the perinatal period; supporting a focus on the emotional well-being of the whole family within primary care and the non-government sector; consulting on and leading PIMH service development and implementation across sectors; delivering training and education for workforce development; and contributing to the evidence-base for cost-effective best practice by conducting evaluation and research activities. As well as this, staff at QCPIMH are members of a range of mental health networks and committees across the state where they promote and advocate for the needs of infants and families during the perinatal period.
This part of the centre provides a focal point for strategic and service development within this specialist area, ensuring that services are family centred, culturally sensitive and evidence-based. They are helping to establish comprehensive and sustainable perinatal and infant mental health services at a range of levels across Queensland which reflect the needs of local communities. This is a big task and the centre is continuing to expand and develop in order to try and meet the growing need for their expertise. They are about to complete their new strategic plan for the next 5 years as well as launching a new website, and hope to employ more staff to support the current team going forward.
Having this kind of centre, funded by the health service, seems to give some real momentum and focus to the service developments in this area. Staff can help to ensure better integration and communication across different services and have a statewide overview of gaps and areas of best practice. It’s been wonderful observing their work over the last week, learning how they overcome challenges and drive changes in this enormously important area.
Author: Jill Domoney