The PMHP service includes psychiatric services, where needed. 

Despite many more women attending the PMHP counselling service, the number of women receiving psychiatric care has decreased over the years. This is due to improved screening processes and the introduction of a stepped-care model.

Our counsellor, at her clinical discretion and with the use of a clinical guide, refers clients to the Community Mental Health team mental health nurse or psychiatrist, in more severe cases. Where required, the mental health nurse or psychiatrist will prescribe medication, which is available at the Community Health Centre. 

What about medication during pregnancy?

While no medication is 100% safe during pregnancy, the PMHP endorses the evidence that shows that the risks to the baby of untreated depression and anxiety are greater than the risks of commonly prescribed medications. Several studies have shown that antidepressants effectively treat both depression and anxiety symptoms.

In 2019, the PMHP recently contributed to substantive changes made to the ‘Mental health conditions and substance misuse’ chapter (Chapter 15) of the Standard Treatment Guidelines and Essential Medicines List (STG EML) for South Africa. We gathered together a team of experts and reviewed the latest evidence to formulate our recommendations which were all formally ratified.

There is now a section on “Pregnancy and Breastfeeding” after each disorder category as well as an antidepressant treatment algorithm for depression and anxiety in pregnancy and breastfeeding (pg. 15.10)

The Guidelines are online and on a free mobile app “EML Clinical Guide” used by doctors throughout South Africa.

For more information read our Issue Brief here


Online resources