Public lecture Maternal Mental Health and Child Outcomes: insights from longitudinal research in Ethiopia



Public lecture ‘Maternal Mental Health and Child Outcomes: insights from longitudinal research in Ethiopia', by prof. dr. Habtamu Mekonnen and discussant prof. dr. Ines Keygnaert

Globally, in most settings, mothers are the primary socializing agent of their children and laying the foundations for their future development. However, maternal mental health interferes with this terrific role of the mother. Women of childbearing age are at increased risk of common mental disorders (CMD), mainly depression, with an estimated prevalence of 13% in high-income countries (HICs) and 19.8% in low- and middle-income (LMICs) countries. Risk factors for maternal CMD not only but include low socioeconomic status, poor social support, substance abuse, stressful life events, marital or intimate partner conflict, infant characteristics, natural and manmade disasters. The negative impact of maternal CMD goes beyond affecting all aspects of a woman’s life and touches the whole family, her work, friendships, and can even lead to suicide in extreme cases. On top of the adverse effect on the individual woman’s life, maternal CMD has been found to affect her interaction with her children inflicting upon their development and education. Children are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of maternal CMD due to their dependence on their caregiver for both their physical and psychological needs. A child’s early environment, including nurturing relationships (with primary caregivers, mostly the mother) and responsive human interactions, plays a critical role in learning and in the development of secure attachment, which provides the blueprint for future relationships and mental well-being of the child. Therefore, intense research is needed to develop advocacy and intervention for maternal mental health to enhance healthy and holistic child development.



10:00-10:05 Introduction by PhD candidate Dereje Regasa
10:05-10:50 Lecture by prof. dr. Habtamu Mekonnen
10:50-11:05 Reflection by discussant, prof. dr. Ines Keygnaert
11:05- 11:30 Q&A


Practical information

Date and time 22nd of November, 2023 from 10:00-11:30 Location Ghent University, Campus Dunant, Henri Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Ghent, leslokaal 1.3 (first floor), Online through Teams (link will be provided to those registered – lecture and reflection discussant will be streamed)


Registration (participation for free, registration mandatory)