Advocacy for action

The PMHP advocates for action towards maternal mental health care for all mothers 

Our advocacy efforts aim to address the significant information gap by translating evidence-based research, disseminating our findings to a wide range of stakeholders and engaging with local and international change agents. We aim to support and inform the design of health policies, guidelines and programmes by working with policy makers, governmental agencies and global networks.

We aim to lead and participate in strategic advocacy campaigns and to use social and traditional media to inform 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

  • The impact of perinatal mental health problems in South Africa • Open
  • Digital Activism for maternal mental health • Open
  • 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



  • SAFM
    Interview with Simone Honikman by Cathy Mohlahlana
    |20 July 2022 | Health Feature: National Fertility Week and Perinatal Health
    Interview with Simone Honikman by Charisse Zeifert
    |03 June 2022 | The 20-year story of the PMHP
  • Radio Atlantis 
    Interview with Liesl Hermanus by Veema Havinga
    15 February 2022 | Pregnancy Awareness Week
  • The Voice of the Cape
    Interview with Liesl Hermanus by Ayesha Laatoe
    |07 December 2020 | Does Post Natal Depression have an impact on breastfeeding
  • Cape Talk
    Interview Simone Honikman by Africa Melane
    | 10 May 2020 | M4M: Providing vital info for mothers in the uncertain times of Covid-19
  • Voice of the Cape
    Interview Simone Honikman by Goolam Fakier
    | 07 May 2020 |
  • Smile FM
    Interview Simone Honikman by Benito Vergotine
    | 06 May 2020 |
  • HealthOMonday – SAFM The View Point 
    Interview Simone Honikman by Songezo Macebe
    | 05 May 2020 | HealthOMonday
  • Grow Great Seminar – POWER FM talk 
    Interview Simone Honikman by Aldrin Sampear
    | 23 October 2019 | POWER talk with Aldrin Sampear
  • More can be done to treat postnatal depression – SABC News
    Interview Simone Honikman by Lerato Matlala
    | 8 August 2019 | SABC Digital News
  • 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
  • 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

First 1000 days and maternal mental health from Perinatal Mental Health Project

PMHP global collaborations/ contributions

South African health policies and guidelines influenced by PMHP

National collaborations/ contributions

  • Invited by National Department of Health (NDOH) to lead the writing of a chapter on psychosocial health for update of COVID-19 Guidelines for Maternal Neonatal and Child Health (2021)
  • Invited by NDOH to support implementation of new South African Maternal, Perinatal and Neonatal Health Policy – mental health and respectful care components (2021-2023)
    • Develop and write guideline documents following from the policy 
    • Develop multimedia training packages to support uptake of the guidelines 
  • Invited by NDOH Essential Drugs Programme to
    • integrate mental health into Standard Treatment Guidelines obstetrics chapters in Adult Hospital Care and Primary Health Clinic care (2021)
    • integrate maternal mental health into mental health chapter of Standard Treatment Guidelines for Adult Hospital Care (2020)
  • Invited by health economists working for NDOH and Treasury Mental Health Investment Case to contribute to maternal mental health components 2021
  • Invited by Western Cape Department of Health to contribute to a COVID vaccine guide for health workers in maternity care. Led the section (and garnered peer review) on how to build vaccine confidence. Building vaccine confidence for the COVID-19 Vaccine
  • Developing the economic case for improving maternal mental health in South Africa Senior collaborator for South African component of Global Economics in Perinatal Mental Health Project (GEMMH) project lead by the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre (CPEC) at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in collaboration with national and global researchers and practitioners active in this field (2020-2021)
  • Invited by NDOH to contribute to update of National Maternal Perinatal and Neonatal Health Policy (2020-2021)
  • Invited by Medical Research Council to contribute to NDOH’s ‘National Framework and Guidelines for Maternal and Neonatal Care during a crisis: COVID-19 response’ plus development of appendices (Messaging and Psychosocial care), plus associated on-line training pack on this for healthworkers (2020)
  • Invited member to NDOH expert committee for Adult Standard Treatment Guidelines 2019-2020
  • Contribution to University of Cape Town’s Knowledge Translation Unit’s PALSA PLUS and PC101 and PACK (Practical Approach to Care Kit) evidence-based primary health care guidelines, adopted nationally in 2013, updated 2016 and 2018; In 2018, member of Clinical Working Group for new guidelines, PACK Community Health Worker
  • National maternity care stationery (Maternity Case Record) now includes several mental health elements including PMHP-developed and validated screening tool
  • Invited contribution to Mental Health Policy Framework and Action Plan for South Africa 2013-2020
  • Invited contribution to University of Cape Town’s Knowledge Translation Unit’s evidence-based primary health care PACK and APC guidelines for professional health and for community health workers (2017-2019)
  • Contribution to the draft of the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS through the Children’s Sector and the Persons Living with HIV Sector (2011)
  • Contribution to three guideline documents for the NDOH’s Directorate of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (2010)

Provincial (Western Cape) collaborations/ contributions

  • The Parent, Infant and Child Health (PICH) working group (2016- 2019)
  • Member of the Western Cape Government First 1000 days Community Based Services working group (2017-2019)
  • Task team member for adapting for Western Cape the National Mental Health Policy Framework and Action Plan for South Africa 2013-2020
  • Member of Patient-Centred Maternity Care task team, Department of Health, Western Cape; including author of The Patient-Centred Maternity Care Code and associated materials for dissemination to clients and staff (2012-2015)
  • Contribution to Antenatal and Postnatal Care Policy of Western Cape (2012-2014) – adopted 2016, for updating 2020