Who we are

NSW Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Services (PIMHS) is a free, statewide mental health service that helps women and parents who:

  • have a severe, acute or complex mental illness, or are at risk of recurrence
  • are pregnant or have a child under the age of two.

Depending on where you live and your situation, this service is offered at clinics, hospitals, community health centres, at your home or via telehealth.

PIMHS clinicians:

  • are either senior nurses, psychologists or allied health professionals (social workers, occupational therapists or psychologists)
  • have specialist skills in perinatal mental health or infant mental health or both
  • work closesly with perinatal psychiatrists.

Some clinicians are also midwives or child and family health nurses.

What we do

PIMHS supports mums, dads, parents, babies and families, including LGBTIQ families, with a range of diagnosed, severe or complex perinatal mental health disorders including:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • postpartum psychosis
  • bipolar affective disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • personality disorders.

The focus of PIMHS is to:

  • help treat parental mental illness
  • reduce symptoms and help recovery
  • improve confidence in caring for your baby
  • support the emotional attachment between you and your baby.

The service can:

  • help you create your own mental health plan so you can receive the right level of care and support before and after the baby arrives
  • provide therapies (for example, cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling and parent-infant therapies) to better manage your mental health needs and everday routines
  • offer advice and support in taking care of your baby (such as feeding, changing, settling)
  • help foster a healthy parent-infant relationship, which is important to a baby’s physical and emotional development
  • help partners and other caregivers on the best way to be supportive and helpful
  • organise a visit to you and baby at your home.

How to get help

Free advice and services are available:

  • before you get pregnant
  • during pregnancy
  • until your child is two years old
  • if you currently have or have had serious mental health issues
  • if you have other risk factors.

To access services, you will need to:

  • get a referral from your doctor, midwife or health worker
  • or call the Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511.

How to get help if you live in rural and regional NSW

If you live in rural or remote NSW, where there are limited perinatal and infant mental health services, it is possible to get help through the Statewide Outreach Perinatal Service - Mental Health (SwOPS-mh), via telehealth and speak to a PIMHS clinician and perinatal psychiatrist located at Westmead hospital in Sydney.

Telehealth is a video consultation over a secure platform (similar to Skype or Zoom) that can maintain patient privacy.

How does a telehealth consultation work?

A telehealth consultation is usually held at a community health centre or mental health service, and can also be accessed at your home if necessary.

The consultation will be between you and a PIMHS clinician in Sydney. A local health professional will also be present online during the consultation and will help and support you with the advice given by the PIMHS clinician.

How do I access this service?

To access telehealth, you will first need to talk to your local NSW Health worker, who will make a referral to SwOPS-mh telehealth service. Find your nearest NSW health centre using the HealthDirect website.

How to get help if you are in a correctional centre

If you are pregnant or have just had a baby and are currently in custody, you can also access PIMHS through the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network. Talk to your Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health worker and ask for a referral to PIMHS.

What happens when I talk to someone at PIMHS?

When you speak to PIMHS staff, they will ask you some questions, such as:

  • Where do you plan to give birth? What is your due date?
  • What are your mental health and physical health concerns?
  • How are you managing with caring for the baby, such as feeding and settling?
  • How is your sleep? Do you get enough rest?
  • Are you taking any medication?
  • What was the trigger that led you to become unwell?
  • Do you or your family have a history of mental health issues?
  • What life events have been most distressing to you?
  • Who are your main sources of supports? Partner, family, friends?

Treatment

Treatment may include:

  • home visits
  • talking therapies (counselling)
  • education and information
  • parent and infant sessions
  • medication.

Many medications are safe for a mother and baby.

You may want to ask the perinatal psychiatrist about the effects of medication on pregnancy, lactation and breastfeeding.

Related links


Current as at: Tuesday 30 March 2021
Contact page owner: Mental Health Branch