Optimizing Mother and Child Health and Development in Botswana
Lisa Butler of the University of Connecticut in the U.S. will develop an approach to improve the mental health of pregnant and new mothers between 15 and 19 years old in Botswana that incorporates interactive group sessions mediated by trained community workers, informative text messages, and an SMS-based mental health screening tool. Between 19-25% of women in low- to middle-income countries suffer from depression during pregnancy, which can also have serious effects on the child. In Botswana, there are large numbers of young, single mothers, who lack support and are particularly vulnerable to depression. They will develop the materials and format for their approach with support from a community working group of adolescent mothers and health providers to ensure it is culturally appropriate and addresses their specific needs. They will also incorporate a theoretical model designed to address the triggers and reduce the stigma of mental health disorders. Their approach will be field tested with 80 pregnant adolescents in a traditional village in Botswana to evaluate its feasibility and acceptability.