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Every pregnant woman in Australia could soon be screened for mental health problems under proposed new national guidelines.

The guidelines recommend every woman be screened for mental health issues during pregnancy, and after their baby is born as part of routine maternity care, reports 7 news.

Post and antenatal depression affects around one in five new mothers and one in 10 new fathers.

“This is an illness that doesn’t discriminate. It absolutely affects every type of family,” Parental Anxiety and Depression Australia CEO Terri Smith said.

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“They’re at a high risk of self-harm or suicide, but there are warning signs.

“Withdrawal from family, feeling constantly sad, it might be lethargy or crying all the time,” Ms Smith added.

If those symptoms last for two weeks or more, experts say you need to reach out.

Under new national perinatal guidelines women struggling may be picked up much sooner.

Perinatal Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week is 12th – 18th November.

It was established by PANDA in 2005.

Since then PANDA has been leading the perinatal mental health sector in promoting the Week to raise awareness about perinatal anxiety and depression, including signs to look for and where to go to seek support.

If you are concerned about the mental health of yourself or a loved one, seek support and information by calling PANDA 1300 726 306, Lifeline 13 11 14, Mensline 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline 1800 551 800

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  • After all my years as pa parent, I have walked beside more other Mums journeying through mental health issues than I care to count. Some with an existing diagnosis, others facing those challenges for the first time, some finding their way through to the other side, others having to come too acceptance that this is part of their journey going forward too. Anything that supports parents through mental health issues is a good thing. At the end of the day, without this support, it gets left to friends and family who are not trained professionals and don’t always know what is the right thing to do.

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  • My doctor was completely on top of checking my mental health at every appointment. I think it needs to extend until children reach school age though.

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  • I thought this program was already running. I had my kids in Northern Ireland and mental health screening was certainly part of the checks during pregnancy and after giving birth.

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  • This program should be quickly implemented and well supported.

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  • I really support this. I am sure it would help women in need.

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