A brief introduction to perinatal mental health (DAA002)

Build a vital baseline of knowledge and skills around perinatal mental health

This five-hour, online course provides a brief introduction to perinatal mental health, with a focus on specific perinatal mental disorders and an overview of the potential risks associated with perinatal mental illness.

CPD certified, our interactive course builds knowledge and understanding in order to enhance the care given to women, birthing people, infants and families during the perinatal period.

By the end of the course, you will have an increased awareness of some of the most common forms of perinatal mental illness and will feel more confident navigating this complex area in your work.

“Women see a wide range of professionals when planning a pregnancy, pregnant and after birth,” says course lead, Dr Lucinda Green. “These include midwives, health visitors, GPs, social workers, psychologists and many more. It is vital that these professionals understand the impact of perinatal mental illness, and the associated risks, for women, birthing people, infants and families.”

“The Digital Academy’s perinatal mental health courses are designed to provide an introduction to this important subject in a way that allows professionals to participate flexibly to fit in with their busy working lives. We hope that the combination of interactive learning, videos and reflection will enable learning to be embedded into clinical practice to improve care for women, birthing people and families.”

Aims and learning objectives

This perinatal mental health course will allow you to:

  • explore a range of factors that can affect a woman’s or birthing person’s mental health during pregnancy and after birth, including her history and current context
  • recognise the prevalence and symptoms of common perinatal mental disorders, including postnatal depression and postpartum psychosis
  • gain an understanding of the risks associated with perinatal mental illness, including the risk of suicide and risk to the infant
  • understand the importance of considering the infant’s perspective and how a mother’s mental health might affect the infant
  • identify the various professionals and services from across the care pathway involved in women’s and birthing people’s care during the perinatal period

You will learn by:

  • exploring key concepts through interactive lecture content and videos
  • deepening your understanding via regular opportunities for reflection
  • considering a case study to help apply the theory to your work
  • testing your knowledge with a multiple choice quiz, which will unlock access to your CPD certificate upon completion

Who is this course for?

We welcome anyone on this course who has a keen interest in perinatal mental health. In particular, the course is for you if you are a:

  • mental health practitioner in non-specialist services (Adult and CAMHS) and are keen to develop your knowledge and skills in relation to the care of women and birthing people in the perinatal period
  • non-mental health professional who cares for women, birthing people and families during the pregnancy and postnatal period and you are keen to develop your knowledge and skills in perinatal mental health in order to improve the care you provide

You may be working as a:

  • midwife or maternity support worker
  • obstetrician
  • doula
  • health visitor or health visitor assistant
  • social worker or other practitioner within social care
  • children’s centre or early years practitioner
  • nursery nurse
  • third sector volunteer or practitioner
  • peer support worker

Course details

This interactive course runs continuously, so you can sign up at any time. It offers five hours of self-directed online learning which you can undertake at a time, pace and location that suits you.

You will have access to the course and its materials for one year. Access begins the day after you’ve booked, when you will receive your account details by email.

This course covers the following areas:

  • factors from a woman or birthing person’s history and current context which can affect her experience of pregnancy, birth and parenting and her risk of perinatal mental illness
  • the experience and perspective of the woman or birthing person’s partner including their history, relationship and attitudes
  • the experience and perspective of the infant and the importance of holding the infant in mind
  • the prevalence, symptoms and diagnoses of perinatal depression, postpartum psychosis and perinatal OCD
  • an overview of potential risks associated with perinatal mental disorders including the risk of suicide and risk to the infant
  • a summary of the professionals and services involved in women and birthing people’s care during the perinatal period

There are no specific requirements for the course and there’s no assumption you’ll have prior knowledge in mental health. This course will provide a clear and accessible introduction to the subject, with a clinical focus.

There’s a multiple choice question assessment at the end of the course, which provides access to your Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust CPD certificate upon completion.

Find out more about the competency framework for perinatal mental health upon which this course is based.


“Five hours that will enrich and strengthen your clinical skills to be more effective, knowledgeable and compassionate whatever your professional role. It is welcoming, well designed, with women’s experiences of becoming ill, of using services, of recovery, and their insights for improvements integral throughout. Frequent reflective sections stimulate the learner to consider application to their own clinical practice. You are signposted to excellent links and resources for further use. I really recommend this for any professional working with women and their families in the perinatal period.”
Jill Demilew
Retired consultant midwife
“It’s easy to navigate. The mixture of reading, pictures and videos is good. The key concepts section is broken down into good bite sized chunks and easy to work through. The videos from different women are powerful. I think this will be very useful for obstetricians at all stages of their career.”
Miss Louise M Page
Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist
“I really enjoyed this course. It refreshed my knowledge, motivated me to learn more and gave me more confidence when working with perinatal mental illness. I particularly liked the balance of information given and then hearing women’s experiences and discussion about perinatal mental illness with specialists.”
“This course provided really valuable insight into an area which isn’t largely covered in the fields of counselling and psychotherapy. The case studies were particularly impactful.”
“This course was great for an intro into perinatal mental health. It gave me a solid basis to work off and has made me want to continue studying further.”

Why study with us?

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust has been at the forefront of exploring mental health and wellbeing for over 100 years. We bring our extensive experience to this course as the only NHS Trust to be registered as a Higher Education Provider by The Office for Students. This means your learning will be grounded in practice and real life application. With our Digital Academy, we have made our training accessible and available to everyone to explore in your own time, at your own pace. Find out more.

Course facilitators


This course has been independently evaluated for Continuing Professional Development purposes by the CPD Certification Service. This means that the learning activity meets global CPD standards and benchmarks, and the learning value has been scrutinised to ensure integrity and quality.

Book your place today

Our Digital Academy mini courses run continuously so you can join at any time. Access begins the day after you’ve booked, when you will receive your login details by email.

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