Highlights from the Media Centre

The drought exacerbating mental health issues for farmers; a lack of options for women to have water births; and research into sleepwalking by children – these are some of the latest stories from our Media Centre:

Drought and uncertainty are rocking farmers’ mental health

Two farmers affected by drought“If you want to rock someone’s mental health, give them a large dose of uncertainty.”

That statement from UniSA’s Chair of Mental Health Nursing, Professor Nicholas Procter, sums up the situation that many Australian farmers are facing as they cope with the worst drought in living memory.

“The weather patterns are totally out of their control, and along with enormous financial stress, isolation, a sense of failure and a feeling of disconnect between country and city, our rural communities are calling out for help,” he says.

Prof Procter, who leads UniSA’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Research Group, has recently been awarded an additional $459,000 by the State Government to further research projects in mental health and suicide prevention.

Call the midwife if you want a water birth: doctors not so keen

Kenny and Melissa Dudek with Ava and Archie.An Australian study of midwives’ views on water immersion during labour and birth shows almost 90 per cent believe the practice should be offered to all pregnant women.

This contrasts with the views of most paediatricians and obstetricians who say there is not enough proof that water birthing is safe, according to the University of South Australia study.

UniSA lecturer in midwifery and nursing and study leader, Dr Megan Cooper, says the controversy around the use of water immersion during labour and birth reflects in part, both the lack of guidelines and the lack of accredited practitioners in Australia.

Waking up to new facts on childhood sleepwalking

Boy asleep at nightnew study by UniSA researchers has explored the prevalence of sleepwalking in school children and its relationship with broader sleep and daytime difficulties.

Lead researcher, Dr Helen Stallman, says sleepwalking is a common behaviour among children.

“Children lead energetic lives; and like all of us, at the end of the day they need a good night’s sleep to set them up well for tomorrow,” Dr Stallman says.

“When parents notice their child sleepwalking, it’s natural for them to worry. Although it usually has no negative consequences, it can result in injuries including cuts and abrasions.”