Referral after screening
Linkage to referral pathways
The primary purpose of screening is to support the early detection of those at risk, and those who are likely to be experiencing a range of mild to severe symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. Early identification serves to support early detection and intervention via primary and community health and perinatal health services, and prevent the exacerbation of symptoms and mental health conditions which often go undetected and untreated.
The need for early detection is critical in light of the fact 74% of women with perinatal anxiety and/or depression do not seek help until they reach crisis point (COPE, 2017), thereby increasing the demand on more intensive treatments and tertiary services.
To support referral following screening, COPE has developed the national e-COPE Directory which will underpin the screening process.
Funded by the Commonwealth Government, the online directory enables the client and/or health professional to undertake a search to identify relevant services for identified risk factors and/or receive mental health assessment and treatment at the time of screening.
These referral pathways are integrated into the patient report, and also can be accessed online by the health professional at any time.
The range of services available on the directory will include those provided by individual practitioners (e.g. GPs, psychologists, mental health social workers) with demonstrated expertise in perinatal mental health, together with perinatal specific services.
The range of services will include face-to-face, online and telephone and other approaches to service delivery, and it will be possible to search by a specific presenting issue (e.g. antenatal depression, perinatal loss) and cost structure (e.g. free service, bulk-billing). As searches also include the use of postcode data for the identification of localised services, it is also possible for telehealth and telepsychiatry services across jurisdictions (particularly rural areas) to be identified.
As part of the rollout of iCOPE across States and Territories, COPE will continue to work with Primary Health Care Networks and Hospitals Services and peak mental health bodies to identify and integrate localised referral pathways into the mapping infrastructure to support screening and referral under this Program.