School of Public Health - International Health
HealthRight Uganda: Maternal Mental Health
Across the world, mental health is critical for women during pregnancy and after birth. Unfortunately, 16% of women in developing countries suffer severe depression and anxiety during pregnancy, and 20% experience this after delivery. In post-conflict settings, posttraumatic stress symptoms are found in 15%. These mental health problems cause suffering and reduced functioning in women. They also carry risks for the next generation: maternal mental disorders are linked with higher chances of worse birth outcomes, impaired growth, suboptimal immunization, higher rates of malnutrition, and worse outcomes for child development and health (e.g., higher rates of diarrheal diseases and fever).
The main aim of the program is to develop and implement an innovative, relevant, acceptable, feasible, and sustainable mental health care model for women facing high levels of stressors, but living in areas with few resources. Mother's mental health is seen as a critical turning point, where the transmission of adversity across generations can be halted.
Rural post-conflict communities in Uganda are characterized by high levels of mental health needs, but limited means to address these needs. The program is therefore designed as a stepped care model, meaning that women are first provided with more accessible, basic, but effective supports. Only if distress persists are women referred to increasingly more specialized care. Furthermore, to facilitate implementation in low-resource settings, the program builds on the principle of task sharing, that is, the implementation of mental health supports by trained and supervised health workers without formal mental health training.
PI Mentor: Wietse Tol