Much of preventable mortality in low and middle-income countries occurs in two groups: children under 5 years of age, and women before, during and after childbirth. The Department of International Health has a long record of research into understanding and addressing the nutritional deficiencies and infectious diseases that contribute to high mortality rates in these two groups. Often overlooked however has been the contribution of mental health problems to maternal and under-five mortality.
Faculty in the Social and Behavioral Interventions Program of the Department of International Health conduct research on the social and cultural context of maternal and child mental health, and identify low-cost interventions that could reduce the mortality attributable to mental health problems in these two groups.
We are interested in the impact of maternal mental health during pregnancy and in the post-partum period on the growth, development, and behavior of children in the next generation. We also study the reciprocal relationship of child morbidity and mortality and how that may affect later psychological symptoms. Our approach combines qualitative and qualitative methods to understanding mental health and its relationships across settings, with the ultimate aim of informing and designing interventions related to these issues.