Around one in five mothers say they suffered from depression following the birth of a child, new research shows.

Around 29,000 mothers or carers of children aged up to 24 months were surveyed for the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The AIHW survey on perinatal depression released today found nearly 20 per cent of mothers responded that they were diagnosed with depression, while eight in 10 women suffering from postnatal depression had received treatment.

Mental Health Minister Mark Butler said the survey done with BeyondBlue and professional experts would improve the baseline data for future research.


"Data collected in this survey will provide important baseline information on screening and treatment as well as better targeting of the National Perinatal Depression Initiative," Mr Butler said in a statement on Tuesday.

Research revealed that perinatal depression was higher among mothers aged under 25, unemployed, smokers, from poorer households and areas and born in Australia in English speaking families.

Mr Butler said the government's national perinatal depression initiative was aimed at improving prevention and early detection of before and post birth depression.

He said the initiative was also to provide improved care, support and treatment for expectant and new mothers experiencing depression.

"The Labor government provided $42,000 in funding to the Australian National Infant Feeding Survey to include questions relating to perinatal depression," Mr Butler said.

Mr Butler said government funding for the initiative was $55 million over five years, including $30 million to state and territory governments to support the rollout of universal screening, support services and training.

He said an extra $20 million had been invested in the Access to Allied Psychological Services program for better treatment for women with perinatal depression.