Jane Myers, Bree Butler, Monique Rosenbauer, Breanna DeMarchi and Sam Johnson. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

Bendigo Health’s Parent Infant Unit, located at the Bendigo hospital is turning one.
The unit, which is the first of its kind in the region, allows the primary carer to be treated for mental health illness accompanied by their child up to the age of 12 months.
In its first year, 44 patients have stayed in the unit with their child while receiving treatment at Bendigo Health.
Previously, patients would have been admitted to adult treatment units where their child is unable to stay with them or had to travel to metropolitan areas away from home.
Bendigo Health’s Monique Rosenbauer said the unit treats acute mental health disorders in carers while supporting the attachment relationship between the infant and their carer.
“This reflects the significant movement towards recognising the need for specialist mental health services for infants and their carers who could be a mother, father or other carer. To date we’ve only had mums admitted as the primary care giver,” Ms Rosenbauer said.
The five-bed, five-cot unit is located within the psychiatry services precinct of the Bendigo Hospital, allowing for the sharing of specialist services and support but is a unit in its own right, with shared lounge and kitchen areas for patients and their families and courtyard access.
To date, the average length of stay has been 17 days, with patients staying from two days to up to nearly three months.
“The criteria for admission is the primary carer is admitted to treat an acute mental illness. The infant must be under 12 months of age and not walking and accompanies the admitted parent to strengthen their relationship. Women in their third trimester of pregnancy can also be admitted,” Ms Rosenbauer said.
“We offer an opportunity for potential admissions to come and visit our unit first.”