Advocacy & Policy development

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.

Our Advocacy and Policy Development Programme aims to influence and change perceptions and awareness around maternal mental health, by building the case for integrated maternal mental health care and its cross-cutting contribution to achieving health and development objectives. 

Our advocacy activities are translating evidence-based research and experience of maternal mental health services to engage with local and international change agents. We raise awareness among health officials, policy-makers and the public, tackle stigma, and empower vulnerable women to demand and take up mental health services.

Issue briefs

Policy briefs

  • Screening for Common Perinatal Mental Disorders in South Africa: The need, the research, the tool. Let’s do it.  Open | Research Poster | Open
  • Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in South Africa: How to break the vicious cycle • Open
  • Screening for common perinatal mental disorders in low-resource, primary care, antenatal settings in South Africa • Open
  • Integrating maternal mental health into existing health and development programmes. • Open
  • Integrating mental health into South Africa’s Primary Healthcare Re-engineering Plan. • Open
  • Integrating mental health into maternal care in South Africa. • Open
  • Maternal mental health: addressing key vulnerabilities. • Open

Lessons learned

  • Nyamekela4Care: an on-site learning and support package for care providers • Open
  • Domestic violence during pregnancy • Open
  • Training for empathic engagement • Open
  • Screening for perinatal depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation • Open
  • Alcohol and other drug use among pregnant women • Open
  • Working together with the Department of Social Development • Open
  • Working with government services: lessons from the PMHP • Open
  • Achieve quality health care by caring for health workers • Open
  • New approach to screening pregnant women for mental health disorders • Open
  • Addressing the crisis of maternal mental illness among economically disadvantaged women • Open

PMHP in the media



  • Mental Health Matters for Moms – Good News
    Interview Liesl Hermanus by Koketso Sachane
    | 06 June 2018 | The Koketso Sachane Show
  • The mental health of pregnant mothers in South Africa can be adversely affected due to food insecurity. 
    Interview Simone Honikman by Tim Modise
    | 23 August 2017 | The Tim Modise Network
  • How social factors drive up suicide rates among pregnant women
    Morning Talk interview Simone Honikman by Rowena Baird   
    | 01 February 2017 | SAFM Morning Talk
  • How social factors drive up suicide rates among pregnant women
    Power-zone interview Simone Honikman by Thabo Mdluli
    | 25 January 2017 | POWER FM987
  • How social factors drive up suicide rates among pregnant women
    Power-breakfast Interview Simone Honikman by Lawrence Tlhabane
    | 23 January 2017 | POWER FM987
  • Understanding prenatal depression 
    567 CapeTalk Health &Wellness, interview with Pippa Hudson and Simone Honikman
    | 19 May 2016 | Cape Talk

  • Maternal Mental Health matters 
    SAFM Otherwise, interview with Shado Twala and Simone Honikman
    | 03 May 2016 | IONO.FM
  • Poverty and trauma are main stressors for mental health problems during pregnancy
    567 CapeTalk Health &Wellness, interview with Africa Melane and Simone Honikman
    | 15 August 2014 | Soundcloud 
  • PMHP’s work with vulnerable women suffering from depression during pregnancy
    SAFM Health Matters interview with Karen Key interview and Simone Honikman
    | 19 August 2014 | Soundcloud 


Online footprint

First 1000 days

The first 1000 days of a child (a period from conception to 2 years old) have been shown to provide a unique opportunity to shape healthier and prosperous futures. Science has shown that lifelong health is influenced by what happens in the earliest years of life. 

The Right Start. Bright Future. campaign, initiated by the Western Cape Ministry of Health, is a holistic programme promoting the well-being of mothers and their babies, as well as the healthy development of infants in communities across the Western Cape province, South Africa. 

The PMHP was actively involved in the development of some of the campaign materials.

first1000days maternal_mental_illness mental_wellness

We have recently published an article in the South African Medical Journal on Maternal mental health and the first 1 000 days 

We are making the case for maternal mental health care during the First 1000 days: presentation

Policy development

The PMHP has been or is currently involved in a range of policy development processes

Overall Programme Objectives

We build momentum and support state-provided maternal mental health services by:

  • raising awareness among the public and service providers at all levels 
  • addressing stigma and empowering service users
  • participating in policy development and supporting its implementation
  • optimally harnessing media sector trends and initiatives.