Giving mums hope through access to mental health care

A mental health screen tool developed by St John of God Burwood Hospital researchers was recently included in new national guidelines to help improve the wellbeing of pregnant women and new mums.

9 Nov 2018

9 November 2018 

The Antenatal Risk Questionnaire (ANRQ), developed by Director of the St John of God Health Care’s Perinatal and Women’s Mental Health Research Unit Prof Marie-Paule Austin and her team, was added to the Australian Clinical Practice Guideline for Mental Health Care in the Perinatal Period.

“The ANRQ is a brief questionnaire that we devised for women in pregnancy to really try and find out a little about whether there might be any risks that put the woman at greater possibility of depression or anxiety either in pregnancy or after baby is born,” Professor Austin said.

“We ask a little bit about her past mental health history, we ask about the quality of her relationship with partners and her mother, and any history of trauma such as childhood adverse events.”

Mum of two boys, Gloria, experienced postnatal anxiety and depression after the birth of both her children.

“It was a big shock,” she said.

“I was lucky enough to be able to have access to St John of God Burwood Hospital and get the care I needed at the Mother and Baby Unit.

“The work Marie-Paule is doing and developing the questionnaire is really important. The more people can be screened and identify and look at the risk factors means women can get the help they need earlier, which is going to be better for everybody.

New Mum Claire, who also received care at St John of God Burwood Hospital’s Mother and Baby Unit, agreed.

“The key to all of this is early screening, the earlier you can find out that someone is at risk and get them treatment saves them going through a lot of pain and suffering,” she said.

“The hardest thing to do is admit you are not coping but there are people out there who can help you.”