New mums receive iCOPE digital tool to screen for perinatal depression, anxiety

Amid the overwhelming feelings of love and joy that comes with having a baby, more than 100,000 Australian mums find themselves in anxiety and depression every year.

Some even think their baby or partner would be better off if they weren’t there.

A recent episode of You Can’t Ask That explored the personal experiences of women suffering from postnatal depression, revealing the trauma, sadness, fear and panic that many endured in silence.

But in a global initiative, a digital screening tool has been developed to aid in the early diagnosis of postnatal depression and anxiety to help prevent other women from suffering alone.

The tool, known as iCOPE, is available in 12 languages.

A smiling woman with short red hair wears blue t-shirts with her arms crossed on the back of the chair, white background.
Nicole Highet says using a digital screening platform gives women more privacy.(Provided)

In Victoria, state hospitals in Warrnambool and Camperdown in the south-west of the state are among the first in the country to use this potentially life-saving tool.

Melbourne-based Nicole Highet has spent her career studying perinatal mental health and is the founder and executive director of the Center of Perinatal Excellence (COPE), Australia’s leading body for reducing the impacts of depression and anxiety. post and prenatal.

The center developed the iCOPE tool during COVID-19 when many women were unable to access their regular maternal health appointments.

Dr Highet said that so far perinatal mental health screening had been “sporadic” across Australia.

She said part of the reason new moms don’t talk about their mental health is the pervasive social media pressure to be a #yummymummy — to look beautiful and feel wonderful.

“There are a number of reasons why women don’t speak early,” Dr. Highet said.

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