New campaign to raise awareness among Aboriginal women about the risks of drug and alcohol consumption during pregnancy

A new campaign to raise awareness among Aboriginal women about the risks of drug and alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been launched today by Minister for Mental Health and Healthy Lifestyles, Kevin Humphries.

Mr Humphries said the

Aboriginal Prenatal Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Campaign emphasises the role partners, families and communities can play in supporting pregnant Aboriginal women in making healthy lifestyle choices.

“The shame, stigma and often a lack of knowledge about mental health and drug and alcohol issues during and after pregnancy are often a major barrier preventing people seeking professional help,” Mr Humphries said.

“One of the key messages of this campaign is ‘stay strong and healthy – it’s worth it’ which is a reminder that healthy choices during pregnancy mean a stronger and healthier baby.

 “The campaign will reach Aboriginal women through a mix of print and radio advertisements as well as online support through social media like Facebook.”

 The campaign also aims to raise awareness of services available to pregnant Aboriginal women and their families across NSW.

 These services include 11 new specialist mental health, drug and alcohol services co-located in Aboriginal Maternal and Infant Health Services in Shellharbour, Taree, Wagga Wagga, Griffith, Gosford, Narellan, Coffs Harbour, Mount Druitt, Dubbo, Walgett and Broken Hill.

 Aboriginal Obstetrician, Dr Marilyn Kong, said research shows that nine per cent of Aboriginal women will experience depression in pregnancy and this increases to 16 per cent in the year following the birth.

 “Drinking alcohol, smoking and drug taking during pregnancy often causes serious problems for many Aboriginal women and ultimately impacts the health and development of their unborn child,” Dr Kong said.

 “Childhood health services can provide important advice and support to new mothers and families as well as advice on vaccinations and other important baby development checks.”

 The campaign will run until October 14, 2012.

 Information on drug and alcohol services is available via the Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) on (02) 9361 8000 or 1800 422 599.

 Information on support services for individuals experiencing depression is available by contacting the Perinatal and Antenatal Depression Association (PANDA) helpline on 1300 726 306 or Lifeline on 131 114.

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