Is there a link between a mother’s mental well-being and their children’s?

UC Berkeley Anthropology Professor Andrew Wooyoung Kim reveals transformative insights into mental health, focusing on the intergenerational effects of mental well-being in Uganda.

Titled “Maternal adverse childhood experiences, child mental health, and the mediating effect of maternal depression: A cross-sectional, population-based study in rural, southwestern Uganda,” (link is external) Kim’s paper was published in the American Journal of Biological Anthropology in May. It examines the profound link between mothers’ adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the mental well-being of their children in rural Uganda, highlighting the mediating role of maternal depression.

“We’ve uncovered an important link between maternal ACEs and their children’s mental well-being,” Kim said. “Our findings reveal that maternal depression may play a vital role in transmitting these adverse effects across generations, emphasizing the urgency to prioritize mental health support for these families.”

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The study not only reveals a significant relationship between maternal ACEs and child mental health problems but also shines a light on the potential role of maternal depression in this pathway. The findings are a call to action to address mental health needs, Kim said, particularly in post-colonial areas with histories of societal oppression and elevated rates of psychiatric morbidity.


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