The Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP) is an independent initiative based at the University of Cape Town. It is located within the Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health, in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health. We are a non-profit entity and have been operating since 2002. We partner with the Departments of Health and Social Development.

We provide mental health services for pregnant and postnatal women, train those who work with mothers to improve the quality of their care, form partnerships to promote the scale up of services and inform local and global interventions through robust research and advocacy.

We support state agencies and partner with non-profit organisations to achieve health and social development objectives for mothers living in adversity. We actively address the challenges associated with gender-based violence, teen pregnancy, HIV, substance misuse, refugee status and early childhood development through our clinical engagement with vulnerable women and their families. We work towards meeting Sustainable Development Goals 1, 3, 5 and 10.

We envision mental health support for all mothers to promote their well-being, and that of their children and communities. Our mission is to develop and advocate for accessible maternal mental health care that can be delivered effectively at scale, in low-resource settings.

Summary of relevant work: 

Clinical Services

At our service delivery sites, we provide routine screening for pregnant women and girls for depression and anxiety at the first antenatal visit. If they show signs or are at risk of depression or anxiety, free on-site psychosocial counselling, follow-up and case management is provided by our trained counsellors for up to one year post delivery. The PMHP model is based on a stepped care approach, which means that referrals are made to psychiatric services when necessary. We build partnerships with public services and civil society to promote outreach and sustainability of services.

Training and Development

We train health and social development workers and thus extend our reach beyond our immediate service beneficiaries. Improved empathic care skills and mental health literacy of health and social development workers creates a long-term difference in the care experienced by pregnant women and mothers who access public services. Through a range of participative learning modules that involve reflective practice, the PMHP provides undergraduate, post-graduate, in-service training, train-the-trainer and professional development training. We teach in the public sector, within tertiary institutions and non-governmental organisations. We devleop training tools and materials to assist other trainers and for distance learning.


We build the knowledge base for providing maternal mental health services in low-resource settings. Our research programme generates evidence for the effectiveness of the different components of PMHP’s service model and how to implement these in different contexts. Through our research collaborations, we are part of international academic forums.

Advocacy, Communications and Policy Development

Our multimedia advocacy work promotes the need, value and model of integrated maternal mental health care to the public as well as to policy and decision makers in several sectors. We participate in public campaigns and work with policy makers and programme developers in the early childhood development sector as well as contributing to national and provincial mental health and maternal care policies.


University of Cape Town
Building B, 46 Sawkins Road
Rondebosch, 7700
Cape Town

+27 (0) 21 650 1423

Please click on this link for the complete list of PMHP's donors and supporter organisations. 

Seeking collaboration with: 
Other organizations
Policy makers
South Africa


Innovations and resources

node teaser-image

Perinatal Mental Health Project

Collaborative stepped-care model featuring counseling for mothers with mental health problems by non-specialist health workers
Maternal and neonatal health
Depression/anxiety/stress-related disorders
3556 reads