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The Women’s and Children’s Health Network acknowledges Aboriginal people as the First Peoples and Traditional Custodians of Country throughout South Australia. We acknowledge and respect their ongoing and deep spiritual connection and relationship to land, air, sea, waters, community and country. We pay our respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.

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Helen Mayo House – Referral Information

Helen Mayo House (HMH) provides treatment for women who have children aged 12 months or younger and who have a significant mental health problem. This page provides background information on HMH Services, and referral information for service providers.

Helen Mayo House is a South Australian State-wide acute inpatient unit of the Women's and Children's Health Network, and is located on the Glenside Campus. It provides services for the treatment of women who have children aged 12 months or under and who have a significant mental health problem such as bipolar mood disorder, schizophrenia, major depression or multiple problems including mental illness. As well as treatment of the mental illness, there is a significant focus on mother-infant attachment issues, and broader family work. In addition to inpatient services, the unit provides teaching services in the community in perinatal and infant mental health and specialised consultation-liaison to general practitioners through the GP shared care workers.

Inpatient Treatment Program

Helen Mayo House is primarily established for the treatment of mental illness. The inpatient treatment program functions as a multi-disciplinary team with consultant Psychiatrists and Psychiatric Registrar, Clinical Psychologist, Infant Mental Health Experts, Social Worker and expert Nursing staff. Treatments and therapies include individual, couple, family, mother-infant and group counselling, medication management and ECT if appropriate.

The approximate length of admission is 2–3 weeks but is largely dependent on each client’s individual needs. Referring agencies and services organised in discharge planning will be invited to attend the ward round with client consent to contribute to post discharge management and continuum of care for clients.

General Practitioner Liaison

We endeavour to conduct assessments on women who are parenting infants, and who have significant mental health problems where management plans are sought by GPs. Management plans may include medication, referrals to our inpatient or group services or to other practitioners as well as a management plan provided to GP. Telemedicine assessments can be arranged for Rural and Remote clients. General practitioner liaison is provided by the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Education Consultation (PIMHEC) team.

PIMHEC clinicians can be contacted by phoning:

Eligibility for referral

Who can refer to Helen Mayo House?

  • Medical Practitioners, and
  • Mental Health Clinicians (including Mental Health Triage)

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for admission to Helen Mayo House, a woman and their child/children MUST meet ONE of the criteria from Section A and ALL of the criteria from Section B.

Section A – MUST meet at least ONE of these criteria

1: Women with SEVERE Mental Health Problems

Women who have one or more children aged 12 months of age or younger and have severe mental health problems that severely impacts on or inhibits their level of functioning and/or ability to parent are eligible for referral to HMH. Severe mental illness in this sense includes an Axis I diagnosis of:

  • Puerperal Psychosis
  • Bipolar Mood Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizo-Affective Disorder
  • Severe Anxiety Disorders
  • Major Depressive Disorder (including Perinatal Depression)

2: Women with MODERATE to SEVERE mental health problems

Women whose child or children are 12 months of age or younger who have moderate to severe mental health problems and have multiple psychosocial issues that have a major impact on their ability to function and /or ability to parent.

3: Women with DUAL DIAGNOSES

Women whose child or children are 12 months of age or younger who have a dual diagnoses of a primary severe mental health problem AND current substance use. If the woman has a drug or alcohol dependency they will only be considered for admission following clarification of detox and withdrawal (see Substance Use).

Section B – MUST meet ALL of these criteria

1: Medical clearance from infectious disease and illness

Women and their child/children will only be admitted if they are medically clear from infection diseases and illness and/or are a minimum 48 hours clear of symptoms of recent illness.

2: Women experiencing drug and alcohol dependence or withdrawal are not eligible for admission

Substance abuse and alcohol use is NOT tolerated on the ward and women with substance and alcohol dependence will only be considered for admission following completion of withdrawal and detox. Clients requiring admission to HMH who are experiencing drug or alcohol dependence will be required to complete a detox program with supporting evidence from the detox program co-ordinator or GP provided to HMH prior to admission. Please contact Drugs and Alcohol Services South Australia (DASSA) for detox programs.

3: Woman and at least one child will be admitted to HMH together

Women are expected to bring their child / children under 12 months of age to stay at HMH during the time of their admission. As HMH provides services for both the mother and child, therefore HMH is unable to accommodate women without their child/children.

How to make a referral

8-step guide for making referrals to Helen Mayo House
  1. Assess mother for eligibility:
    Criteria checklist (refer to eligibility criteria section above for more detail):

    > Does the woman have a moderate to severe mental health issue?
    > Does the woman have a child or children 2 years of age or younger?
    > Is the child able to be admitted to HMH with their mother?
    > Does the mental illness significantly impact on woman’s ability to function and/or parent?
    > Is the woman currently free from illicit drug or alcohol dependence?

    If you have answered YES to all of the questions listed above then your client may be eligible for admission to HMH. Please refer to step 2 which gives instruction on how to access and complete a referral form.

    If you have answered NO to any of the questions listed above then your client is not eligible for admission to HMH. However there are several community based support services that may be suitable, please refer to Support Services (below) for more information.
  2. Access the HMH referral form or call HMH for a faxed copy of the form (Ph: 08 87087 1030).
    Please note that all mandatory fields, indicated by a * on the referral form, must be completed prior to submission. Referral forms without this information will not be processed.
  3. Fill out the referral form (this can be typed or hand written) ensuring that all mandatory fields are completed.
  4. Once the referral form is completed return it to HMH via fax: 08 7087 1060.
  5. The HMH intake officer will notify you within 3 days of having received the fax and will provide information about the status of the referral (i.e. eligible vs. ineligible referral).
  6. If eligible, your referral will be prioritised and placed on the HMH waiting list.
  7. The waiting list will be periodically revised by the intake officer.
  8. You will also need to provide regular updates regarding the status of your client, especially when there is a change in their clinical status, to ensure that they are appropriately prioritised. This can be done by filling out a Referred Client Update Form and attaching it to an email or fax: 08 7087 1060. (Attn: Intake Officer).

Please note that HMH is not responsible for the management of the client upon receiving the referral. However HMH will be responsible for responding appropriately to your referral by adding your client to the waiting list or suggesting other more appropriate sources of support.

Further information

Waiting for admission

When there are no available beds HMH will prioritise referrals with medically urgent admissions taking priority. For example: Women with severe mental health problems and who are breast feeding young infants are a high priority for admission.

  • Referrals will be placed on a waiting list in order of their level of priority according the HMH Admissions Policy. The waiting list and priority ranking of referrals will be reviewed periodically.
  • When a bed becomes available the highest priority referral will be contacted for admission. In this case a HMH staff member will contact the client who has been referred and will notify you via telephone or email.

HMH is not a crisis care service and referrals will only be reviewed periodically. Therefore HMH cannot be responsible for responding to acute or crisis situations. If you require urgent acute or crisis intervention please contact the Mental Health Telephone Triage Service on 13 14 65 for immediate assessment, referral and support or your nearest hospital emergency department.

Waiting time

Due to HMH’s commitment to admitting the highest priority referrals upon availability of a bed it is difficult to predict waiting times for admission and admission, therefore, cannot be guaranteed. Historically waiting times for admission have been anywhere between a few days for emergency admissions to several weeks or several months for lower priority referrals. When a bed becomes available a HMH staff member will contact you and your client.

In the meantime...

Women, children, fathers, partners and their families need ongoing support whilst waiting for admission. Families who receive appropriate support during their time of waiting may experience less distress and increased coping abilities to manage an emotionally difficult and confusing time. A list of support services that may be appropriate for your client as listed below in the support services section.

Support Services

For assistance in a mental health emergency, contact the mental health triage service:

Phone: 13 14 65 – available 24 hours, seven days a week

Your General Practitioner

Seeing your GP can be a good starting point for accessing professional help. For information on how your GP can assist, please go to this Beyondblue web page"

Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA)

Phone: 1300 726 306 or visit

Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) offers a national helpline, service directory, counselling and referral to appropriate mental health and parenting services. PANDA provides information that is suitable for consumers and service providers.

Child and Family Health Service

Phone: 1300 733 606 or visit

Child and Family Health Service provide support for parents and caregivers around feeding and settling issues, parent-child relationships, attachment, health checks, parenting groups and referral to other support services such as Torrens House and Family Home Visiting. There are over 100 centres across South Australia and they are generally open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

To make an appointment, call 1300 733 606 between 9am and 4.30pm. Alternatively call the 24 hour Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100.

Women’s Health Service

Phone: 8444 0700 or visit

The Women's Health Service offers over-the-phone and face-to-face counselling for women experiencing mental health problems and psychosocial issues for both rural/-remote clients and metropolitan clients, as well as face-to-face counselling for metropolitan clients at one of the three satellite locations.

Beyond Blue

Phone: 1300 224 636 or visit

For the cost of a local call, Beyond Blue' telephone and online support service provides callers with access to information and referral to relevant services for depression and anxiety related matters. The Beyond Blue website also has a lot of information regarding postnatal depression and possible support services.

Relationships Australia South Australia (RASA)

Phone: 1300 364 277 or visit

For the cost of a local phone call, this number directs you to the main Relationships Australia centre in your state for:

  • general enquiries
  • enquiries about specific RA services
  • other centres to make appointments

RASA provides a myriad of services including counselling, support groups, projects and clinics for South Australian families with the purpose of promoting and developing family connections and relationships.

Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (DASSA)

To find out about drug and alcohol services in South Australia, go to the DASSA web site.

Alcohol & Drug Information Service (ADIS)

Phone: 1300 13 13 40

ADIS is a 24-hour telephone information, counseling, and referral service for the general public, concerned family and friends, students and health professionals. ADIS is staffed by trained professionals with experience in the alcohol and other drug field. ADIS also provides information about how to access other DASSA services. A wide range of information pamphlets, posters and other resources is available.