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Perinatal Mental Health

  • : Online
Course Overview


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

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


It is widely accepted that the perinatal period (including birth and the following twelve months) is a time of extraordinary change in a person's life and that it is very common to experience a wide range of emotions. For many mothers, anxieties and fears spontaneously resolve, however, there is a growing number of people for whom pregnancy and parenthood can trigger more serious mental health concerns. People 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 mothers, 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 their 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 evidence-based, culturally safe and family-centred.


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

Learning Outcomes
  • Explain the role of accurate assessment and early intervention in the person 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.
Target Audience

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


No conflict of interest exists for anyone in the position to control content for this activity. Wherever possible, generic or non-proprietary names of medications or products have been used.




Karen-Ann Clarke  

Dr Karen-Ann Clarke is a registered nurse and a specialised mental health nurse with 30 years’ experience of working with individuals and families impacted by the experiences of mental illness. Using a feminist narrative methodology, her PhD research explored the way that women diagnosed with depression made decisions and meanings about receiving electroconvulsive therapy. As a lecturer in nursing at USC, Karen-Ann is responsible for the coordination of mental health curricula across multiple undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Teaching in excess of 900 undergraduate students each year, she is passionate about the value that immersive mental health simulation can bring to student’s learning and clinical skills and the way that it can safely bring to life theoretical concepts related to mental healthcare. Karen-Ann currently supervises a number of honours, masters and PhD students and is part of numerous research projects, involving visualisation and simulation, mental illness, suicide prevention and the inclusion of people with lived experience of mental illness into the teaching and learning space.

Perinatal Mental Health
Speciality Classification
Provider Type
Education Provider
1h 15m
CPD Points
1h 15m
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