For service providers

Service Development Guidelines

Integrating Maternal Mental Health: this guide can be used by those planning mental health services or facility managers wanting to implement integrated services – even with limited resources. 

Download the guideline here

Basic Counselling Skills

This handbook provides you with some basic counselling skills, like listening, asking questions and reflecting. It also outlines approaches to counselling mothers during pregnancy.

Download the handbook here

Maternal Distress Tool

The mental health screening tool, developed and validated by the PMHP is integrated into the new Department of Health Maternity Case Records.

See page 9 in the Maternity Case Records here

COVID-19 guidance

National COVID-19 Clinical and Operational Guideline for Mothers, Newborns and Children

see a chapter on ‘Psychosocial care’ for this new iteration of COVID-19 guidelines that was led by PMHP in collaboration with a team of experts.

Building vaccine confidence for the COVID-19 Vaccine

is an advisory for service providers on how to promote vaccine confidence among service users.
This draws on local and international evidence as well as World Health Organization guidance and has been reviewed by local experts. 

It was adapted for use as a chapter, “Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy” in the Western Cape Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy: Information Guide for Healthcare Professionals.  

Addressing violence against women in maternity care


A guide for health workers in maternity care

During COVID-19, additional stressors for the family can lead to an increase in intimate partner violence (IPV) or violence by others in the home against pregnant or breastfeeding women. Women can experience physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse by current or past partners, or by others who live in the home.

Health workers are in a good position to respond and this guide may help you recognise possible signs that a woman is experiencing violence and how to respond. 

You can read, download and share here.


Bettercare – Maternal Mental Health guidebook Bettercare_book

Written by Sally Field and Dr Simone Honikman Edited by Prof Dave Woods

A book from the highly successful series based on the Perinatal Education Programme, Maternal Mental Health was written for doctors, nurses and social workers caring for women before and after birth. It provides a clear guide to supporting mental health in the perinatal period.

Order the book or read online.

“I can relate to the book because I have experienced Maternal Mental Illness during pregnancy of my first child and after the pregnancy of my last born child, The maniac episode took place four months after I gave birth.” MF, Department of Social Development North West Province employed as a Social Auxiliary Worker



 Facilitating groups in service settings: a guide for facilitators 

This guide gives some ideas for ways to help you facilitate groups of people meeting in service settings. These tools may be used to facilitate general meetings or training workshops. 

You can read or download the guide here.




Doing What Matters in Times of Stress is a WHO stress management guide for coping with adversity. This illustrated guide supports the implementation of WHO’s recommendations for stress management.

There are many causes of stress, including personal difficulties (e.g. conflict with loved ones, being alone, lack of income, worries about the future), problems at work (e.g. conflict with colleagues, an extremely demanding or insecure job) or major threats in your community (e.g. violence, disease, lack of economic opportunity). This guide is for anyone who experiences stress, ranging from parents and other carers to health professionals working in dangerous situations. It is for both people who flee war, losing all they have, and well protected people living in communities at peace. Anyone living anywhere can experience high levels of stress.


Enabling young children to achieve their full developmental potential is a human right and an essential requisite for sustainable development. Given the critical importance of enabling children to make the best start in life,  the health sector, among other sectors, has an important role and responsibility to support nurturing care for early childhood development.

This guideline provides direction for strengthening policies and programmes to better address early childhood development.

One of the four key recommendations is “Supporting Maternal Mental Health”. Our director, Simone Honikman, is acknowledged for her peer review of this document.




Our resource directory is aimed at service providers and organisations offering counselling or psycho-­social support services in the Cape Town region for vulnerable moms, dads and their families. Click on the image to download.

Support and service providers


Bringing Light to Motherhood: Perinatal Mental Health Community Provider Toolkit

This toolkit, developed by Maternal Mental Health Now, is an easy-to-use resource geared toward any health care provider or caregiver that interacts with new moms and moms-to-be. With over 100 pages are full of tips and advice on the risk factors, symptoms, prevention, screening, intervention and treatment of perinatal depression and related mood disorders, the toolkit also provides handouts that providers can distribute to patients. Download the PDF or use the interactive toolkit online

Issue briefs

Learning briefs

  • Escaping the Inequality Trap: The case for supporting pregnant women • Open
  • Digital Activism for maternal mental health • Open
  • Nyamekela4Care: an on-site learning and support package for service providers • Open
  • Domestic violence during pregnancy • Open
  • Training for empathic engagement • Open
  • Alcohol and other drug use among pregnant women in a peri-urban South African setting • Open
  • Working together with the Department of Social Development: A case study from the PMHP • Open
  • Working with government services: lessons from the PMHP • Open
  • Achieve quality health care by caring for service providers • 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 Policy briefs

  • Screening for Common Perinatal Mental Disorders in South Africa: The need, the research, the tool. Let’s do it. • 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

Other relevant policy briefs

  • Maternal Mental Health – by Bernard van Leer Foundation • Open

Self-care for carers

Self-care for care workers


The maternity setting can be a stressful environment. As a service provider, you may be faced with limited resources, staff shortages, long working hours and task overload.

This leaflet gives you a few easy examples of how to care for yourself and get the support you need.

Click on the image or download here.

Maternal Mental Health handbook

PMHP’s Maternal Mental Health Handbook (3rd Edition: 2013)

Click on the images below to download the relevant chapter or download the full version here

Contents & Foreword


Maternal Care

Maternal Mental Illness


How to refer

How to help

Special Issues



This directory aims to provide an overview of the care and support services to vulnerable and at-risk families in the Western Cape.

This directory is not a complete and comprehensive reflection of all relevant sector entities working for victims of crime and violence in the Western Cape, but will be updated regularly.


The PMHP’s Maternal Distress Tool was integrated into the standard Western Cape Department of Health Stationery.

Click on the image to read or download the Department of Health, Provincial Mental Health Directory

Standard Treatment Guidelines and Essential Medicines List for South Africa Hospital Level, Adults, 2019 Edition


Multimedia resources


Empathic Engagement Skills training

This training video demonstrates and models good empathic skills, through the use of real-world case scenarios. It also provides examples of how not to engage with mothers.

An informal discussion-style of teaching is embedded in the film to enhance the viewers’ ability to engage with and critique the modelled skills as well as their own.

Lindiwe is not alone! 

Becoming a mother can be hard for your body and your mind! This animated video tells the story of Lindiwe’s struggle to bond with her newborn baby.
This video is aimed at mothers and service providers in low-resource settings. It was collaboratively developed by Grow Great, the Perinatal Mental Health Project and Digital MEdIC South Africa, an initiative of the Stanford Center for Health Education.

Secret History Training – this training video is aimed at trainers who train service providers in empathic engagement skills and respectful care in the health and social environment.

This training method is freely available for adaptation and use. 
However, we request that the PMHP is acknowledged for the original design. Most importantly, we ask that you let us know whether, where, and how you have used the method, any adaptations you have developed and any feedback you may have about the film, or about your experiences using the method. In this, we can learn from others’ work. 

If you wish to receive the Facilitators’ Guide please contact us at

Caring for mothers, caring for the future

This video is based on Xolelwa’s story, this documentary takes you into the world of mothers with depression. Award-winning Director Simon Wood followed Xolelwa in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, where rates of postnatal depression are three times higher than in developed countries. 

 You can find this and many more useful videos on our YouTube channel here or follow the links below

  • “I felt like I am alone” watch Carol’s story here
  • Perinatal Mental Health – why research is important watch
  • Addressing mental health needs of service providers watch
  • Perinatal Mental Health in South Africa watch


  • Grow Great Seminar – POWER FM talk 
    Interview Simone Honikman by Aldrin Sampear
    | 23 October 2019 | POWER talk with Aldrin Sampear
  • Helping depressed Moms – Metro FM Talk 
    Interview Liesl Hermanus by Kgopedi
    | 18 October 2018 | METRO FM talk with Kgopedi
  • 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
  • 567 CapeTalk Health &Wellness, interview with Africa Melane and Simone Honikman | August 2014 | Soundcloud 
  • SAFM Health Matters interview with Karen Key interview and Simone Honikman | August 2014 | Soundcloud 




Centre of Perinatal Excellence

Providing a collection of resources supporting health professionals to provide best practice on their website.



RESPECT women: Preventing violence against women

Violence against women is a major public health problem rooted in gender inequality and is a gross violation of women’s human rights affecting the lives and health of millions of women and girls. Aiming to end violence against women, a package/framework with infographics on prevention of violence against women – RESPECT – Preventing violence against women: A framework for policymakers was developed, based on the UN framework for action to prevent violence against women from 2015 and updated new evidence.

  • R –elationship skills strengthened
  • E –mpowerment of women
  • S –ervices ensured
  • P –overty reduced
  • E –nvironments made safe
  • C –hild and adolescent abuse prevented
  • T –ransformed attitudes, beliefs, and norms

See the full RESPECT women package on the WHO  website.

Global Health Media Project

Giving Good Care During Labor

This film shows ways to help a labouring woman and contribute to a feeling of trust.

The intended audience is frontline health workers in the developing world.

Copyright © 2014, Global Health Media Project

Caring for Mothers Caring for You

Together with the Western Cape Department of Health we developed this booklet for mothers and their carers.
Click on the image to download.

Teen pregnancy guide

Together with the Western Cape Department of Health we developed this booklet for pregnant teenagers.
Click on the image to download.

perinatal mental health

This handbook is intended as a supplement to our training programme and as a resource to anyone involved with mothers and mothers-to-be. Click on the image to download. 

This leaflet explains how you can deliver patient-centred care to mothers and babies. Click on the image to download. 

This leaflet is intended to provide support to service providers “If you do not feel cared for, it can be very difficult to care for others.