The early years are critical for lifelong brain development and functioning, learning, and wellbeing.
PIRI is committed to investing in the earliest years to build a brighter future for mothers, fathers, babies, and their families.
The crucial first years
Each year 1 in 5 Australian women suffer from perinatal anxiety and depression. Up to 50% of these women are never identified and only 10% of women actively receive treatment. A similar picture is emerging for new fathers. There is an urgent need for early intervention to reduce the immediate and long-term impact on not only women but on their children and families. The impact on infants is also important.
According to Professor Milgrom, “The first years of life are critical and when things go wrong, we need to intervene early. In these early years, the basic ‘sculpting’ of a child’s brain takes place, a time when infants are completely dependent on their parents and caregivers. There is growing evidence that early experiences influence brain structure and the connections made among brain cells. These connections can affect a child’s immediate and future cognitive, emotional and behavioural development.”
“A child’s environment is largely influenced by an infant’s relationship to his caregivers, which can powerfully influence levels of stress, and the infant’s ability to learn and self-regulate. Importantly, secure attachment has its roots in the earliest relationships and predicts later ability to relate. Investing in the period from birth to toddlerhood is critical not only for child development but also for greater community benefit.”
World Mental Health Day is a great reminder to take time out for yourself to check in on your mental health and to keep making positive changes that can last a lifetime. It’s also a great time to check in on those close to you to see if they are OK.
Each expectant and mums’ journey are different, and the stressors and personal experiences of someone with perinatal depression or anxiety will also differ. If you are not feeling yourself and it is affecting your emotional well-being, then please reach out for support. This can feel challenging but is so important.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on people’s mental health. Repeat pandemic lock downs have hit hard. We are experiencing uncertain and unsettling times in the light of COVID-19, and this can have concerning impact on families during pregnancy and after birth. Social isolation, extended wait lists and women living in regional communities can find it difficult to access traditional perinatal support services.
Heightened levels of stress during this time can make it difficult for expectant and new parents to fully experience the joy of having a baby and to deal effectively with stressors and mental health concerns that can arise during this time. The need to physically distance can also increase feelings of isolation and limit much needed support from family and the community for new parents. Given these very real difficulties, it has never been more important for expecting and new parents to care for themselves and their families.
PIRI is committed to investing in the earliest years to build a brighter future.
The Parent-Infant Research Institute (PIRI) is a vigorous and innovative Australian research institute whose vision is to improve the emotional well-being of parents and to optimise infant development. PIRI provides a unique contribution to early intervention by combining basic research and clinical expertise to address depression and other difficulties facing parents and infants. The Institute is a leading body recognized internationally for its cutting-edge research into perinatal depression and anxiety and translating research to practice.
Professor Jeannette Milgrom established the Parent‐Infant Research Institute (PIRI) in 2001 conducting basic and applied research (ante and postnatal depression, anxiety, prematurity, screening, CDSS, and developing psychological treatments – mothers, fathers and babies).
Professor Milgrom has been successful as Principal Investigator on three prestigious National and Health Medical Research and a National Institute of Health grants over the last 5 years, investigating neurobehavioural development in preterm infants and developing internet treatment of postnatal depression. In a landmark publication, improvement in infant brain connectivity (visible on MRI scans) was found following a stress-reduction intervention by parents (Milgrom et al., 2010, Ped Res, 67).
PIRI continues to be a leading influence with a successful track record of over 80 grants, 157 referred journals, 19 invited book chapters and 8 books (two translated into Italian and one into Dutch).
PIRI is a not-for-profit research institute which conducts international research and develops rigorously evaluated early intervention programs that enhance perinatal mental health and improve early parent-infant relationships (0-2 years). We remain absolutely committed to working with families and health professionals to ensure better outcomes and a bright future.
PIRI’s 20-years of ground-breaking work has resulted in a suite of evidence-based programs that have and will continue to provide support to thousands of Australian mothers, children, and their families.
PIRI is proud to be supporting Mental Health Week by investing in the earliest years to build a brighter future.