WEST Wimmera Shire Council will provide more support for expectant and new parents as part of an expansion of its maternal and child health services.
Council's maternal and child health nurse co-ordinator Monica Feder said council would employ a dedicated perinatal mental health clinician to ensure parents in the community were further supported.
"West Wimmera Shire's maternal and child health team is committed to improving perinatal depression in the shire and we have a new opportunity for a suitably qualified perinatal mental health clinician to join our team and work across our communities," she said.
"We want to provide better support and treatment for expectant and new parents, who are experiencing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety."
The new clinician will actively follow-up mental health screenings and any perinatal mental health concerns identified by maternal and child health nurses, midwives or general practitioners.
The clinician will also undertake clinical assessments, provide psychoeducation, therapy, and advice to people, as well as advocate for women in relation to their mental health.
Mrs Feder said the new position was much needed for the community.
"I identified there was a gap in the services we offered and this position will help us provide more targeted and ongoing support to those who need it," she said.
"Perinatal depression and anxiety is a serious mental health issue that affects parents in our shire.
"Currently, the only option we have available for parents is either travelling to Horsham to use counsellors there, or phone support such as Panda and Beyond Blue."
While 'baby blues' is common for new parents, when a low mood or feeling of anxiousness stops an expectant or new parent from functioning normal for more than two weeks, they might be experiencing perinatal anxiety or depression.
"Being pregnant or becoming a new parent can be both exciting and challenging, but sometimes people have trouble adjusting to the changes that come with the arrival of a new baby," Mrs Feder said.
"Up to one in five expecting or new mothers will experience perinatal anxiety or depression, along with one in 10 expecting or new fathers.
"West Wimmera Shire Council is committed to providing ongoing support and care for all new parents in our Shire."
Mrs Feder said the perinatal mental health clinician would be a key member of council's Community Support and Wellbeing team and would actively facilitate and contribute to the team's delivery of contemporary mental health treatment.
The new clinician will also provide education at parents' groups to raise awareness of perinatal mental health problems and advise them on how to seek help.
Mrs Feder said the position was now being advertised, and more information was available at council's website.