Thrasher Research Fund - Medical research grants to improve the lives of children

Project Details

Early Career

Status: Funded - Open

Prevalence and correlates of mental health problems in young (birth-5 years) Ghanaian children

Marilyn Ahun, PhD


BACKGROUND: Most mental health problems have their onset in early childhood, which is a sensitive period for brain development. Evidence from the health and social sciences suggest that these early years of life have sensitive windows where exposure to risk or protective factors can produce long-term influences on health outcomes. GAP: Approximately one in five school-aged children in Ghana experience depression and anxiety; however, there is no available data on the prevalence of mental health problems in young children. Specifically, there is little scientific data on the burden of mental health problems in young (≤5 years) Ghanaian children and their associated psychosocial risk and protective factors. HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesize that 1) there will be a high burden of mental health problems in young (≤5 years) Ghanaian children and that 2) family-level psychosocial factors (e.g., parental depression, low levels of parental education, and low family wealth) will be associated with higher levels of children’s mental health problems. METHODS: This study consisted of a quantitative household survey with 750 adult mother-father pairs of a child between the ages of 6 and 60 months who live together in the same household with the child. Mothers and fathers were asked questions about household characteristics, their sociodemographic information, their parenting practices and mental health, as well as their child’s mental health. RESULTS: Pending. IMPACT: This descriptive study will shed light on the burden of children’s mental health in Ghana and identify key psychosocial factors that are associated with it. These data can then be used to inform future studies and research on how to alleviate the burden of mental health problems in young Ghanaian children. Website Link:

Supervising Institution:
McGill University

Richard Appiah

Project Location:
Canada, Ghana

Award Amount: