Integrating maternal psychosocial well-being into a child-development intervention: the five-pillars approach

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 Jan;1308:107-117. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12339.


Maternal psychosocial well-being (MPW) is a wide-ranging concept that encompasses the psychological (e.g., mental health, distress, anxiety, depression, coping, problem solving) and social (e.g., family and community support, empowerment, culture) aspects of motherhood. Evidence-based MPW interventions that can be integrated into large-scale maternal and child health programs have not been developed. Building on several years of research in Pakistan, we developed and integrated a cognitive behavioral therapy-based MPW intervention (the five-pillars approach) into a child nutrition and development program. Following formative research with community health workers (CHWs; n = 40) and families (n = 37), CHWs were trained in (1) empathic listening, (2) family engagement, (3) guided discovery using pictures, (4) behavioral activation, and (5) problem solving. A qualitative feasibility study in one area demonstrated that CHWs were able to apply these skills effectively to their work, and the approach was found to be useful by CHWs, mothers, and their families. The success of the approach can be attributed to (1) mothers being the central focus of the intervention, (2) using local CHWs whom the mothers trust, (3) simplified training and regular supervision, and (4) an approach that facilitates, not adds, to the CHWs' work.

Keywords: maternal depression; maternal mental health; maternal well-being; psychological well-being; public mental health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Workers
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / methods*
  • Early Intervention, Educational
  • Early Medical Intervention
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Mental Health
  • Mother-Child Relations / psychology*
  • Pregnancy