MHPN Meetings

Mental Health Professionals Network (MHPN)

Outer Eastern Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Network
Location: Ringwood, VIC
Coordinator: Dr Bronwyn Leigh

Quarterly low-cost presentations and discussions from those working in the field.  Open to all health professionals with an interest in perinatal and infant mental health.  Meetings are a 2-hr duration and the 1-hr presentations occur within that time, followed by further discussion and networking.

2019 Program:

Tuesday 19 February 2019
5.45pm-7.45pm; presentations starts at 6.15pm sharp
Topic: Perinatal Anxiety: Holding the Infant in Mind when Mum is Anxious
Presenter: Dr Bronwyn Leigh, clinical psychologist and Director, Centre for Perinatal Psychology

Perinatal anxiety is thought to be as prevalent as perinatal depression, yet has had far less press.  This presentation will explore ways in which anxiety presents during the perinatal period and how maternal anxiety can impact infant development and the emerging relationship.  Maternal health and wellbeing can understandably take precedence in the presence of maternal anxiety, not only by the preoccupied mother, but also by her worried family and health professionals.  Holding the baby in mind when working therapeutically with anxious parents is crucial. 


Tuesday 21 May 2019
5.45pm-7.45pm; presentation starts at 6.15pm sharp

Topic: Partners to Parents: Navigating Couple Relationship Changes in the Transition to Parenthood

This presentation will outline the development of Partners to Parents ( This website aims to prevent perinatal depression and anxiety by enhancing partners’ understanding of how they can be mutually supportive of one another during the transition to parenthood. It was developed in consultation with more than 60 perinatal mental health experts and parents. It is supported by the research literature, endorsed by perinatal mental health professionals and consumers, and seen as acceptable and relevant by parents. This website has the potential to contribute to reducing the prevalence of perinatal depression and anxiety and optimising the health and well-being of parents and their children.

Presenter: Dr Pam Pilkington is a Clinical Psychologist who has worked in a range of inpatient and outpatient settings, including private practice, public and private hospitals, a university counselling clinic, and a drug and alcohol service. Pam currently works in private practice using Schema Therapy as her primary modality. Pam has a particular interest in helping new and expectant parents reduce their chance of experiencing mood problems by strengthening their couple relationship. In addition to her clinical work, Pam has co-authored more than 20 peer reviewed journal articles on parenting and mental health, and is a research supervisor for students completing Masters and Honours in Psychology at the Australian Catholic University. Pam is a Member of the Centre for Perinatal Psychology.


Tuesday 20 August 2019
Topic: What to look for? Assessment and treatment of Perinatal OCD and OCD like symptoms

The area of perinatal OCD is often under assessed and not well understood. This presentation will outline the symptoms of Perinatal OCD (including sub clinical symptoms) and treatment which many new mothers experience. It is hoped the presentation will help professions not only identify symptoms but attend to the mothers distress related to their “Scary Thoughts”.  The presentation aims to aid accurate assessment of risk and assist professionals to attend to their own reactions to these “Scary Thoughts” (as this can be a barrier to mothers accessing treatment). Holding the baby in mind in the midst of the preoccupation of maternal OCD is paramount and will be discussed with a view to considering dyadic relationship implications.

Presenter: Diana Cornish is a clinically trained psychologist with a special interest in women’s mental health issues, particularly in the perinatal period. Diana has worked across various mental health settings for over ten years including community mental health, inpatient, outpatient and outreach. Diana currently works in private practice using drawing upon a variety of therapeutic approaches to understand and work with mothers, including Attachment theory, Reflective Parenting, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and other mindfulness based therapies. Diana also works within a Private Hospital with adults with complex trauma (attachment trauma). Diana has a particular interest working with mothers experiencing  postnatal episodes of OCD, anxiety and depression. Diana is a proud Member of the Centre for Perinatal Psychology.


Tuesday 19 November 2019
Topic: Unleashing the Grief: Motherless Mothers in the Perinatal Period

In this presentation, I will examine the struggles particular women face when they become mothers for the first time after their own mother has died.

Many women who have lost their mothers experience an unexpected and sudden resurgence of grief in the weeks and months they transition to becoming a mother themselves. Some women describe this as an unbearable pain, amidst all the other turmoil and change they are experiencing. It is also common for women to feel that support networks, personal and professional, fail to allow space for the expression of this devastating grief.

Research shows that this can have a significant detrimental effect on women’s transition to parenthood and on their perinatal mental health.

While the focus is often understandably on the baby’s wellbeing and the mother’s attachment, this sometimes inadvertently means overlooking the depth of the woman’s loss. Women inevitably use their own mothers as a reference point in their own emerging maternal identity, asking questions like:

  • What kind of labours and births did my mother have with her children?
  • How did she cope with breastfeeding?
  • What sleep settling techniques did she use?
  • What things did she find really hard?
  • If she was here, what kind of a grandparent would she be?

When women don’t have access to this information, it creates a painful reminder of their mothers’ absence and of the gaping hole in their lives.

This presentation will provide an insight for health professionals so they can:

  • Provide a listening space to acknowledge the grief of motherless mothers
  • Understand how this might impact during the transition to parenthood
  • Be prepared to provide additional supports for a motherless mother if necessary
  • Answer any questions you may have about the difficulties motherless mothers face during the perinatal period

N.B. While my study specifically focused on women whose mothers had died, some similar themes could potentially be experienced by women who are separated from mothers due to estrangement, unsupportive relationships or other types of loss and separation.

Presenter: Rachel Kleinman is a bereavement counsellor at Red Nose Australia. Red Nose specialises in supporting families through the sudden loss of a baby or child, from pregnancy loss through to the sudden loss of a child up to the age of 18.

Prior to that, she spent four years as a perinatal counsellor working on PANDA’s national anxiety and depression helpline, supporting families through a range of perinatal mental health concerns.

Rachel’s first career was in writing and journalism, and she decided on a career change after having her daughter, who is now nearly 11.

Rachel completed her Masters in counselling and psychotherapy with the Cairnmillar Institute. For her thesis topic, she decided to combine two areas of interest – perinatal mental health and grief and loss. She finished the thesis in early 2019 and is currently in the process of submitting it for academic publication with the Journal of Family Studies.

Fee: $10
Online bookings essential
Bookings via TryBooking Here

Contact us for more information about the MHPN meetings

Mental Health Professionals Meetings are held around Australia – search their website for other opportunities to connect with a Perinatal and Infant specific meeting group.

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