A maternal mental health intervention for pregnant women in low-resource settings in Kenya

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For this project, researchers developed two knowledge products with this project (both available for download below), a policy brief on a scalable mental health intervention for pregnant women in Kenya and a contextualized facilitator’s guide for a group-based maternal mental health (MMH) intervention.

The policy brief created illustrates the overall process and outcome of this project. It describes the need for the adaptation and piloting of an evidence-based, low-cost, and scalable mental health intervention for pregnant women in Western Kenya. The study found a high need for mental health support among perinatal women in the study region, with more than one-third of screened women showing depressive symptoms. The pilot showed that integrating a contextualized group-based mental health intervention within routine antenatal care settings in primary healthcare was feasible, and acceptable. The policy brief provides several recommendations to policymakers, the community, and pregnant mothers in western Kenya to enhance their access to much-needed mental health support.  

(All five PM+ posters are available for download below.)

Based on extensive Focus Group Discussions and local psychological expert consultations, researchers first adapted and contextualized the WHO Problem Management+ curriculum for group-based mental health intervention to the situation of pregnant women in Western Kenya. This included a revised facilitator’s guide and contextualized training poster. The facilitator guide was used for training local Community Health Volunteers to provide support group sessions with women from their communities who had been identified through the maternal and childcare program MomCare to be in need of mental health support. The guide aids facilitators in session preparation and planning, explaining the five strategies of the MMH intervention, demonstrating their application through case examples, promoting active learning and group discussion, and ensuring efficient time management.

These knowledge products aim to serve as the basis for a larger, statistically powered, controlled research study of the intervention with the goal of rigorously evaluating its impact on maternal mental well-being and maternal and child health outcomes.

Knowledge product details

  • Knowledge Activation Grants

  • 2021

  • Kenya

  • Maternal health

  • Mental health

  • Share-Net Netherlands

  • English

  • Facilitator Guide

  • Policy Brief

  • Poster

KP creators involved

Download Knowledge Products

Policy Brief on A Scalable Mental Health Intervention for Pregnant Women in Kenya: This policy brief illustrates the overall process and outcome of the project, describing the need for and the adaptation and piloting of an evidence-based, low-cost, and scalable mental health intervention for pregnant women in Western Kenya.

Contextualized Facilitator’s Guide for a group-based maternal mental health (MMH) intervention: The facilitator’s guide encompasses various annexes, including participant information and consent forms, adapted Problem Management Plus (PM+) Posters, pre-and post-MomCare assessment tools, session-wise helpful hints, the MomCare (MMH) referral protocol, and a five-step strategy and delivery approach. These essential tools are freely available for other organisations and settings and can be of great benefit to facilitators in effectively planning, preparing, and delivering the sessions.


MomCare Program-Based Problem Management Plus (PM+) posters.

KP creators involved

Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development

The Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD) is an international research and education institute that works to develop sustainable solutions to major health problems. By taking a problem-oriented approach, AIGHD transcends the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines and integrates three fundamental activities into one institute: Research, education & capacity building, and policy & impact.

AIGHD was initiated as a partnership between the Academic Medical Center (AMC), the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). Today, it is a dynamic research and education institute that thrives on intense collaboration among experts from multiple disciplines including biomedicine, economics and social and behavioral sciences. With its interdisciplinary and translational approach, AIGHD addresses the most critical medical, social, economic and political challenges in global health and development that cut across national and political borders. To realize its vision of ‘‘access to high quality health care for all’’, AIGHD closely collaborates with implementing partners and organizations from both public and private sectors around the globe. AIGHD works by linking expertise, resources and programs from organizations involved in health-related research, education, capacity building and policy making, bringing a ‘delivery perspective’ to health research and a ‘quality aspect’ to health care services.

TINADA Youth Organization (TiYO)

TINADA is a youth-led CSO focusing on Integrated Mental Health Services, Education Empowerment, Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Disaster Risk Reduction. They work in the Lake Victoria region of Kenya and Uganda, TINADA works to support teenage and single mothers, women, children, young people, and people with disabilities. TINADA Youth Organization understands the value of advocacy, gender and social inclusion as well as capacity development in achieving the vision of the organization. As such, the organization ensures that all programs benefit from these crosscutting implementation strategies and take a human rights-based approach.

PharmaAccess International

PharmAccess is an international NGO that believes in doing healthcare better. Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, they work to improve healthcare markets so they deliver for all so people can access better care, live healthier lives, and reach their full potential. With headquarters in Amsterdam and most of its staff based in four country offices across Africa, PharmAccess is an international NGO with a history of reimagining what is possible. PharamaAccess challenges the notion that exclusion from healthcare is an inevitable consequence of living in poorer countries and identifies the opportunities and partners – both private and public, needed to bring about transformation. This means mobilizing private and public resources, measuring and improving the quality of services, and reaching even the most excluded people with financing options to pay for care.