New guidelines for mental health disorders in pregnant and postpartum women

PregnantAs many as one in five women in BC will experience a mental health disorder during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Such disorders affect all aspects of a woman’s life, as well as that of her baby and family. If left untreated, the consequences can include compromised prenatal care, increased risk of obstetrical complications, self-medication or substance use, compromised mother/infant interactions, and cognitive, emotional, and behavioural impairments in the developing child.

However, with the right strategy and a coordinated approach, mental illness can be detected early and treated effectively. A new set of guidelines, Best Practice Guidelines for Mental Health Disorders in the Perinatal Period, has been developed to support healthcare clinicians in BC in early detection and coordinated treatment of pregnant and postpartum women with mental health challenges.


The guidelines include:

  • an overview of mental health disorders in the perinatal period;
  • descriptions of four common disorders: depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and psychotic disorders, including postpartum psychosis; and
  • education and prevention, screening and diagnosis, treatment, and recommendations for each disorder.

The guidelines are available online at

Best Practice Guidelines for Mental Health Disorders in the Perinatal Period was developed by BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services (BCMHSUS) and Perinatal Services BC (PSBC), in partnership with the BC Ministry of Health.

BCMHSUS provides specialized provincial tertiary mental health services to people in BC and helps British Columbians to be healthy by providing health awareness and promotion information as well as the tools to assist them in making healthier choices. Visit


PSBC provides leadership, support, and coordination for the strategic planning of perinatal services in British Columbia in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, health authorities, and other key stakeholders. PSBC is the central source in the province for evidence-based perinatal information. Visit

BCMHSUS and PSBC are both agencies of the Provincial Health Services Authority, which plans, manages, and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services, working with the five regional health authorities to deliver solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. Visit