right@home, the largest Australian randomised controlled trial of nurse home visiting, shows benefits for the mental health of mothers experiencing adversity.
right@home is an Australian nurse home visiting program, designed to promote family wellbeing and child development by supporting mothers and families experiencing adversity. The program provides up to 25 home visits with a child and family health nurse from pregnancy to child age two years.
Right@home and mothers’ mental health
Mental health is important for mothers to be able to provide warm and responsive parenting and interactions with their child.
New research has shown that mothers who received the right@home program reported better mental health and wellbeing when their child turned three years old, compared to mothers who received “usual care” from universal child and family health services at local centres. The improvements to mothers mental health were evident one year after the nurse home visiting check-ins ended.
These benefits add to the parenting benefits reported by mothers when their child turned two years old. Mothers with nurse home visits said it improved their capacity to care for themselves and their children.
Early benefits have potential for long-term gain
The benefits that the right@home program had for mothers’ parenting at two years, and mental health at three years, have the potential to translate to a wider range of positive outcomes for both mothers and children.
There is often a focus on maternal mental health during pregnancy and in children’s first year of life. However, many mothers experience mental health difficulties beyond the first year, and these often increase as their child gets older. The benefits seen for right@home suggest the nurse home visiting program may have prevented or postponed this worsening of mental health for mothers of young children.
These early benefits are important to make headway in preventing later long-lasting inequities for both children and mothers.
The right@home sustained NHV trial is a research collaboration between the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth; the Translational Research and Social Innovation Group at Western Sydney University; and the Centre for Community Child Health, which is a department of the Royal Children’s Hospital and a research group of Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
For more information on the right@home program visit www.rch.org.au/ccch/research-projects/right-at-home/