Alan J Flisher CPMH Seminar: Trajectories of perinatal depressive…

The CPMH’s seminar programme is an opportunity to share on-going work and invite broader participation in the Centre.

On 6 July 2021 the Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health hosted a seminar by Dr. Emily Garman. She is a senior researcher in the field of public mental health.


Perinatal depression is prevalent in South Africa, and associated with greater risk of birth complications, poorer health outcomes and greater risk of suicide behaviours for the mother, and with poorer physical, cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioural development for her child. There is preliminary evidence using growth curve mixture modelling, that the course of perinatal depression is heterogeneous, and that each course is associated with a range of risk factors and child outcomes. A systematic review of the literature revealed that the most commonly reported trajectories are (i) a ‘low-risk’ trajectory, characterised by chronically low levels of depressive symptoms throughout the perinatal period, (ii) a ‘high-risk’ trajectory, characterised by chronically severe levels of depressive symptoms, and (iii) an ‘antenatal’ trajectory, with greater levels of symptoms antenatally, which naturally abate before or just after birth. All the evidence was generated in high-income countries, however. Little is known about the course of perinatal depression in low-income settings, where women are more likely to experience social and economic adversity, and where the patterns of risk among mothers and their children are likely to differ. The overall aim of this research was to identify the trajectories of perinatal depressive symptoms among low-income women in South Africa, and investigate whether these were associated with specific psychosocial and economic risk factors, child outcomes and suicidal risk over time. Given the limited mental health resources available at primary care level in South Africa, findings could contribute to developing efficient methods to identify, refer and manage perinatal women who may need more intensive mental health care.

The presentation in PDF form can be downloaded here:

Call for applications for MPhil in Public Mental Health…

The Alan J. Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health (CPMH), a joint initiative of the Department of Psychology at Stellenbosch University and the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at the University of Cape Town, is an independent inter-disciplinary academic research and teaching centre for public mental health promotion and service development in Africa. The CPMH is proud to invite applications from across the African continent for the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Public Mental Health in 2022.

The MPhil in Public Mental Health is a part-time research degree that aims to develop advanced research skills, enabling participants to undertake their own research projects (such as evaluating services, policies and interventions) as well as interpret research findings for mental health policy and practice. The programme is designed to be accessible to practitioners who work full-time, and who are from a range of backgrounds including social work, psychology, psychiatry, medicine, occupational therapy, nursing, health economics, public mental health, public health, health service management, policy making and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The training aims to build the professional capacity and leadership of the participants in their work, while contributing to knowledge generation in Africa.

The degree requires:

  • The completion of a 3-week residential or online training module in research methodology for public mental health (depending on COVID-related restrictions, this training may be delivered via an online platform and students will not be expected to travel to Cape Town);
  • Participation in an online writing course March 2022;
  • Participation in monthly webinars
  • The preparation of a dissertation of a minimum of 20 000 words.

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