Peter C. Alderman Foundation - Healthright International

Maternal Mental Health in Uganda

2017 - 2019

In post-conflict settings like the Soroti District in Eastern Uganda, as many as one in four women will develop perinatal depression. This will put them at risk for obstetric complications, preterm labor and suicide. It will also put their babies at risk for premature birth, low birth weight, malnutrition, higher rates of childhood disease and missed immunizations.

The proposed intervention begins with antenatal services. Pregnant women will be screened during their prenatal visits and will receive care if they show signs of depression. Should the initial approach not work, alternative types of care will be provided. Psychoeducation classes will teach women about the causes of depression, its symptoms and simple self-care techniques to help alleviate them. Patients whose symptoms persist will attend group therapy (e.g. group interpersonal therapy IPT-G or group support psychotherapy). For the most vulnerable cases, when IPT-G fails, women will be referred to PCAF clinicians for specialized management.

The intervention’s strategy is to reduce maternal depression through a cost-effective stepped care model that is adapted to the situation and that uses evidence-based, context-appropriate therapies consistent with mental health guidelines (mhGAP and NICE).

This project, in partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Health and Johns Hopkins University, will develop a sustainable intervention that integrates mental health into existing maternal health services. The intervention can then be scaled up in other settings.

Project highlights

Activities and beneficiaries


perinatal women screened at antenatal care visits


perinatal women receive psychoeducation


women enrolled with decreased depression symptoms


women enrolled who have increased functioning scores

©BreeOna Ebrecht & ©Luca Galbiati