Saeun Park is a PhD student at the U of M School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health. Park will work with mentor Sarah Cusick, PhD, on her CGHSR Scholar project titled "Assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on caregiver’s depression and its association with child neurodevelopment." She will conduct her research at the Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed an unprecedented health and economic burden on most nations. Unfortunately, Uganda is not an exception. Earlier in the pandemic, Uganda imposed stringent lockdown measures to prevent the spread of the virus. However, the strict lockdown has resulted in reverberating economic consequences and increased anxiety throughout its population, particularly mothers of young children. Mothers are particularly at risk of depression due to their insecure economic status, food insecurity, low level of social support, and increased needs of their children. Children are also vulnerable to mental and emotional disturbance because maternal depression often results in insecure mother-child attachment.
Despite these acknowledged risks, no study has investigated the impact of COVID-19 on maternal mental health and its possible impacts on child neurodevelopment in Uganda. Therefore, my study aims to determine if COVID-19-related income loss and food insecurity are associated with increased depressive symptoms among mothers in the Kampala area of Uganda and assess if maternal depression affects child development.
Findings from this study will call attention to the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of the most vulnerable populations and can be used to propose future solutions to COVID-19-related mental health issues among mothers and their children in Uganda and other countries with similar settings."
CGHSR Scholars Program
Discover more about our Scholars Program that provides hands-on training at international research sites to University of Minnesota students through a guided mentorship program.