Maternal Mental Health


…ideal for doctors, nurses and social workers involved with supporting and caring for mothers during the perinatal period—South African Psychiatry, May 2015

Maternal Mental Health equips medical and allied health professionals to better care for new and expectant mothers. Many professionals struggle to identify and understand maternal mental distress and illness. This programme provides all the tools they need for essential perinatal mental health care. It covers:

  • an introduction to maternal mental health
  • identifying maternal mental illness
  • making referrals for maternal mental illness
  • how to help mothers with mental health problems
  • special medical issues in maternal mental health
  • special social issues in maternal mental health
  • supplementary resources for assessing, referring and supporting mothers in the perinatal period.
  • infant mental health

This programme was developed by experts with extensive mental health experience at the Perinatal Mental Health Project in Cape Town.

ISBN (print edition): 978-1-920218-83-6
ISBN (reflowable edition): 978-1-920218-88-1
ISBN (international edition): 978-1-717897-79-4

About the authors of Maternal Mental Health

Dr Simone Honikman is the Director and Founder of the Perinatal Mental Health Project. She is a medical doctor with extensive experience working within the public sector in women’s health, both as a clinician and as a service manager. Her postgraduate qualifications include a Masters degree in maternal and child health. Dr Honikman is a regular teacher and trainer in the health care community, employing interactive techniques that utilise health workers’ experiences for self-reflection.

Sally Field is a Project Co-ordinator at the Perinatal Mental Health Project. She completed a BA in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Cape Town and an Honours Degree in Psychology at Rhodes University. She obtained an MA in Video for Development through the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, focusing on participatory practices for development. Her experiences range from film-making to advocacy and development work in rural Sri Lanka.

About the series editor

A previous head of neonatal medicine at UCT, David Woods who consulted to UNICEF and the WHO, and is developing distance-learning courses and innovative, power-free medical devices for health professionals in under-resourced countries.

Acknowledgements for Maternal Mental Health

Maternal Mental Health has drawn from material from the Perinatal Mental Health Project’s Maternal Mental Health: A handbook for health workers. The handbook can be found online at The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions made to the content of the handbook by: Emily Baron, Bronwyn Evans, Sheila Faure, Sue Fawcus, Angela Hutchison, Linda Lewis, Crick Lund, Ingrid Meintjes, Natasa Meli, Karen Miller, Liz Mills, Songelwa Mobo, Joan Raphael-Leff, Hilary Rosenthal, Lisa Sanders, Bridget Schweitzer, Sarah Skeen, Roseanne Turner, Julie van der Vlugt and Bavi Vythilingum.

Graeme Arendse created the illustrations.

We acknowledge all colleagues who have made suggestions and offered constructive criticism. It is only through constant feedback that the content of the Perinatal Education Programme can be improved.

We are particularly grateful to the Harry Crossley Foundation for their generous funding for the production of this book.