Course Overview


This Course is designed for nurses or midwives who are caring for pregnant women/new mothers who show signs and symptoms of a mental health disorder.

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain the role of accurate assessment and early intervention in the woman who is experiencing mental distress
  • Describe the signs and symptoms of a variety of mental health disorders arising in the perinatal period
  • List the common treatment options available to treat these disorders with an emphasis on the safety for both mother and baby

Topics include:

  • Assessment of mental health during the perinatal period
  • Specific mental health disorders
  • Treatment options

Target audience

Nurses or midwives who are caring for pregnant women/new mothers who show signs and symptoms of a mental health disorder.


Enhance understanding of how the vulnerable nature of pregnancy and childbirth can influence the emergence of mental health disorders in women.


It is widely accepted that the perinatal period (including birth and the following twelve months) is a time of extraordinary change in a woman’s life and that is it very common for a woman to experience a wide range of emotions. For many women, anxieties and fears spontaneously resolve, however there is a growing number of women for whom pregnancy and parenthood can trigger more serious mental health concerns. Women who have a history of pre-existing mental health disorders, who experience a lack of support, who have a previous history of trauma, or who are isolated by distance or culture (such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, or those from a culturally or linguistically diverse background) face a greater risk to their emotional wellbeing.
Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and more severe disorders such as psychosis impact on the wellbeing of not only the mother, but her baby and significant others and may have a profound impact upon the dynamics of family relationships. Nurses and midwives must have a fundamental understanding of these mental health disorders in order to screen for them effectively in the perinatal period and to recognise the emergence of signs and symptoms of mental ill health. This will allow them to respond with care that is evidenced-based, culturally safe and family-centered.

Health professionals in Australia that are registered with AHPRA are required to obtain continuing professional development (CPD) hours/points each year that relates to their context of practice, in order to comply with mandatory regulatory requirements.