A BENDIGO mother has encouraged new parents experiencing mental health issues to seek help.
Taygen Malavisi, 32, gave birth to her daughter Georgia in June.
She said she had been 'feeling very funny' for a while before she considered the Parent Infant Unit at Bendigo Health.
Mrs Malavisi has a form of epilepsy and has anxiety.
Her anxiety symptoms ramped up after Georgia was born.
Mrs Malavisi said those helping her manage her condition could tell when she'd had less sleep and was stressed.
Seizures were her greatest concern.
"I had two different seizures to what I normally did," Mrs Malavisi said.
Her sleep was also affected.
Mrs Malavisi was hesitant when the Parent Infant Unit was initially suggested.
The five-bed mental health inpatient unit opened at the new Bendigo Hospital in March 2017.
It is intended to help parents and primary carers with mental health difficulties, or who are experiencing difficulties adjusting to parenthood that are affecting their mental health and their bond with their baby.
READ MORE: Keeping parents and kids together
The unit caters for parents and babies from the third trimester of pregnancy through to the child's first birthday.
Partners are also welcome to stay at the unit and participate in programs.
Bendigo Health senior perinatal and infant clinician Elyse Davies said many patients had preexisting mental health issues.
She said early parenthood was a challenging time that could exacerbate vulnerabilities. It was a high-risk time for the development of mental health issues.
Ms Davies early parenthood could also be a particularly challenging time for people who had difficult early childhoods.
"It's a stressful period for any new parent," she said.
She said there was a lot of fear and stigma surrounding mental health issues, which also extended to people's consideration of the Parent Infant Unit.
People would sometimes wonder if what they were experiencing meant they weren't 'good parents', or if they were 'crazy', Ms Davies said.
Promoting mental health literacy is part of the unit's role.
READ MORE: Aid for parents in need
Mrs Malavisi's husband, Nick, said the Parent Infant Unit would not exist if issues were uncommon.
In two years, the Parent Infant Unit has had 116 admissions.
Mrs Malavisi and Georgia called the unit home for just shy of two months.
In that time, Mr Malavisi said his wife had seen she was not the only person ever to go through what she had experienced, nor would she be the last.
She was leaving knowing the help was always there, if she needed it.
Ms Davies said people's length of stay varied depending on their needs.
The Mental Health Regional Triage Service assesses whether the unit will be suitable for prospective patients before they can be admitted.
The Parent Infant Unit operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
It became a home away from home for Mrs Malavisi and her family.
"If you are recommended to come in, come. Everyone is very supportive and welcoming," she said.
Mrs Malavisi was optimistic, albeit slightly nervous, the day she was discharged.
A number of stays at home prior to being discharged meant she had the opportunity to ease back into the environment.
She was so anxious when she first arrived at the unit that she woke up on the second day to a panic attack.
"The staff were fantastic," Mrs Malavisi said.
She was heading home with an arsenal of strategies and skills to help manage her anxiety and her epilepsy, as well as information on baby care.
Georgia is Mr and Mrs Malavisi's first child.
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