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Reilly, Nicole Dr

Research Fellow

Overview


Around one in seven women will experience perinatal anxiety or depression—that’s tens of thousands of families affected in Australia alone each year. Esteemed perinatal mental health researcher, Dr Nicole Reilly has dedicated 15 years to the pursuit of answers on behalf of these families and the health professionals who care for them, seeking to boost support for women during an often highly vulnerable time of their lives.

“My research focuses on improving our understanding of how pregnancy and parenthood can affect a woman’s emotional wellbeing, and how we can work together with consumers, clinicians and policymakers to achieve the best outcomes for women, children and families.

“A large part of this work involves investigating how we can best prevent and effectively manage depression, anxiety and psychological distress in pregnant women and new mums.”

Early intervention is key

Nicole has been at the forefront of research, policy and practice in perinatal and maternal mental health since 2007, when she worked closely with a national steering committee to co-write the beyondblue National Action Plan for Perinatal Mental Health. The Plan resulted in the $85 million National Perinatal Depression Initiative in 2008, which aimed to improve prevention and early detection of antenatal and postnatal depression and provide women with better support.

“Identifying symptoms and risk factors as a routine component of antenatal and postnatal care, and helping women access timely, appropriate support, can be so important for the wellbeing of mums, dads and babies for years to come.”

While Nicole’s work is contributing to significant progress, further research—and additional prevention and care strategies—are urgently needed in Australia.

“Unfortunately, research continues to show that there is still an enormous amount of shame and stigma that can prevent women from seeking help for their emotional health when they most need it. Yet the perinatal period is a time when the vast majority of women are in regular contact with health professionals, and it provides such a unique window to identify concerns and intervene early.”

Strategies for success

To further bolster important screening processes, Nicole’s current research program includes large-scale evaluations of innovative digital and computer-based models of integrated perinatal mental health care at sites across Australia. Results from these studies are expected to inform strategies to optimise adherence to evidence-based clinical guidelines, which will ultimately result in better quality care and improved outcomes for women who give birth in Australia.

Nicole is also assessing a range of screening tools for anxiety, which can affect up to 15 per cent of women during pregnancy and 10 per cent of women in the year following birth.

Together with colleagues at the University of Newcastle, she is exploring the potential cumulative impact of exposure to adverse childhood experiences and violence across the life course on women's health and parenting outcomes—and how it also affects their children.

Nicole is careful to ensure that all her research projects are informed first and foremost by women’s voices, allowing real-world experiences to guide solution-focused interventions.

“During my time working in this field, so many women have given up their own time to participate in studies both large and small, and invariably say they are happy to do so if it means that the work will help other women and their families in the future. Their generosity of spirit, even in times of real adversity, are an inspiration.”

Available as Research Supervisor

Selected Publications


Available as Research Supervisor

Potential Supervision Topics


  • Nicole is particularly interested in supervising motivated PhD, Masters, Honours or RCA students in projects related to perinatal mental health, prevention and early intervention for mental health, depression screening and psychosocial assessment, health services research and policy evaluation. 

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Master of Philosophy - ASSH Measuring psychosocial risk factors associated with poorer mental health and parenting outcomes for fathers in the perinatal period. Schilder, Suzanne

Full Name


  • Nicole Reilly

Mailing Address


  • Centre for Health Service Development, Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI)

    Building 234 (iC Enterprise 1), Innovation Campus

    Wollongong

    NSW

    2522

    Australia

Selected Publications


Potential Supervision Topics


  • Nicole is particularly interested in supervising motivated PhD, Masters, Honours or RCA students in projects related to perinatal mental health, prevention and early intervention for mental health, depression screening and psychosocial assessment, health services research and policy evaluation. 

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Master of Philosophy - ASSH Measuring psychosocial risk factors associated with poorer mental health and parenting outcomes for fathers in the perinatal period. Schilder, Suzanne

Full Name


  • Nicole Reilly

Mailing Address


  • Centre for Health Service Development, Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI)

    Building 234 (iC Enterprise 1), Innovation Campus

    Wollongong

    NSW

    2522

    Australia