Health symposium to improve outcomes for WA families

October 10, 2017

Improving families: Professor Galbally is drawing WA research into perinatal mental health together.

Health researchers from Murdoch University played a key role in a recent symposium on mental health during pregnancy.

Murdoch University’s Professor Megan Galbally, who is also Medical Co-Director of Women's Health, Genetics and Mental Health at King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH), jointly organised the event with KEMH and Fiona Stanley Hospital.

“This was the first time that a diverse group of researchers working in maternal health in pregnancy and early childhood here in Western Australia, have shared information which could improve outcomes for families,” Professor Galbally said.

“This symposium enabled both clinicians and researchers to learn more about the latest developments in areas such as preventing preterm birth, obstetric risk factors for developing psychotic illnesses and early intervention for autism.”

Professor Galbally said that research in this field was demonstrating extraordinary gains in Western Australia.

“This symposium also launched a reinvigorated consumer support specifically for perinatal mental health through both the work of Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) and the Gidget Foundation,” Professor Galbally said.

“Researchers and clinicians with an interest in women’s and child mental health were able to appreciate the depth and breadth of what is being undertaken in the State.”

Topics included efforts to reduce pre-term birth, an intervention to reduce the impact of autism and research on developing a better understanding of modifiable early life risk factors for psychotic illness.

Murdoch University was well represented at the event with presentations by Professor Rhonda Marriott, PhD student Jayne Kotz and alumni Dr Nicole Highet and Dr Catherine Campbell.

“The symposium was opened with a discussion led by Dr Highet, the Chief Executive of the Centre for Perinatal Excellence (COPE) in Melbourne, about the new National Guidelines for Perinatal Mental Health,” Professor Galbally said.

“It was also fascinating to hear from Professor Marriott and Jayne Kotz, who shared some valuable insights into their early intervention work to improve Aboriginal perinatal care.”

More than 200 researchers and health practitioners attended the event, listening to the last developments in the fields of mental health during pregnancy, preterm birth and Aboriginal maternal health.

The symposium was held at Fiona Stanley Hospital, and was also broadcast through the Western Australian Country Health Service to 11 locations around the State.

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