Maternal mental health in Amhara region, Ethiopia: A cross-sectional survey

Joy Noel Baumgartner, Angela Parcesepe, Yared Getachew Mekuria, Dereje Birhanu Abitew, Wondimu Gebeyehu, Francis Okello, Dominick Shattuck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Postpartum common mental disorders (CMD) such as depression and anxiety are increasingly recognized for their burden in low-resource countries such as Ethiopia. However, the magnitude of postpartum CMD in Ethiopia is not well-established. This short report describes the mental health status of women who had given birth in the last 24 months in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 1,319 women aged 15-49 years old who had a delivery in the previous 24 months from 30 randomly selected kebeles (smallest administrative unit in Ethiopia) across Amhara region. The survey included the Self-Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ-20) developed by the World Health Organization - a CMD screening instrument that includes 20 yes/no questions on depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms experienced in the last 30 days. We used 2 cutoff scores to determine probable cases of mental disorder: (1) 4/5 (# 4 "yes" responses5non-case, $ 5 "yes" responses5case) based on a study that validated the SRQ-20 against a diagnostic tool in Butajira, Ethiopia, and (2) a more conservative and commonly used 7/8 cutoff. Results: Among the 1,294 women who completed the full survey including the SRQ-20, 32.8% had probable CMD using the 4/5 cutoff score versus 19.8% using the more conservative 7/8 cutoff. About 15% of the women responded affirmatively that they had had suicidal thoughts. Conclusion: Poor mental health was common among the surveyed women who had given birth in the past 24 months in Amhara region, Ethiopia. Integrating mental health care into maternal and child health services could potentially alleviate the burden of CMD among women in the extended postpartum period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)482-486
Number of pages5
JournalGlobal Health Science and Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Maternal mental health in Amhara region, Ethiopia: A cross-sectional survey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this