Maternal Mental Health

Mental illness may not be recognised because of stigma, lack of knowledge and isolation. Maternal Mental Health equips health and social workers with the tools they need to feel confident managing maternal mental distress, supporting mental health and optimising infant development.

Chapters cover:

  • Basics of maternal mental health.
  • Identifying maternal mental illness.
  • Making referrals for maternal mental illness.
  • Helping mothers with mental health problems.
  • Special issues in maternal mental health, including poverty, HIV, teenage pregnancy, unintended pregnancy, termination, adoption, refugees, substance abuse, domestic abuse, child abuse, suicide and pregnancy loss.
  • Resources for screening and supporting mothers.
  • Full title: Maternal Mental Health: A guide for health and social workers
  • Author(s): Perinatal Mental Health Project
  • With contributor(s): Illustrations by Graeme Arendse, adapted for low-bandwidth access by Kevin Shelley
  • Print ISBN: 978-1-920218-83-6
  • Reflowable ebook ISBN: 978-1-920218-85-0
  • PDF-ebook ISBN: 978-1-920218-84-3

Testimonials and reviews

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

About the authors

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.


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 on the PMHP website. 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.

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