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Childrens Mental Health in Cambodia

Research project STRENGTHENING CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN CAMBODIA – prevention, early identification, and treatment.

Research on under-five children’ early development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) has predominantly focused on survival and physical functioning, neglecting their psychosocial development. Consequently, very little is known about the prevalence and effective evidence-based interventions that promote psychosocial development in LMIC, especially in post-conflict settings. Improving mental health will boost children’s development and engagement in their future education and employment and improve economic opportunities more broadly.

Head of project

Masoud Vaezghasemi
Research fellow

Project overview

Project period:

2024-01-01 2027-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Epidemiology and Global Health

External partners

Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CCAMH-Cambodia), National Institute of Public Health – Cambodia

Research area

Public health and health care science

Project description


The overall aim of this project is to strengthen children’s mental health services in Cambodia through integrated childcare at both community and health system levels. This interdisciplinary project will provide a platform for partnership and reciprocal learning between Cambodia and Sweden, in terms of both research (Aims 1-4) and capacity building (Aims 5-6, Table 1). The specific aims are categorised into three overarching work packages:

Implementation (Work Package 1)

  • To carry out a screening program for detecting psychological difficulties among children aged 18-24 months, using the PSYCa 6-36 questionnaire as the screening tool;
  • To organise an intergraded community- and group-based parenting intervention called: responsive stimulation and nutrition intervention;

Evaluation (Work Package 2)

  • To assess the impact of a universal community-based intervention on peoples’ perception of mental health and children with psychological difficulties;
  • To estimate the cost of the stepped care model from a provider perspective;

Capacity building (Work Package 3)

  • To develop training materials for digital data collection, utilization, and reporting designed for primary health care workers, and;
  • To conduct annual workshops on data analysis and research methodologies used in the project for community health workers, university students, and the local research team.

Together with Cambodian partners and using a stepped-care model suitable for Cambodian culture and context, community and primary health care workers will be trained. Children will be screened for psychological difficulties, community-level universal mental health promoting interventions will be implemented, child mental health services will be integrated into community-based primary health care activities, and the impact of the community-based activities will be evaluated.

This integration will ensure the sustainability of child mental health services beyond the current project. It will also maximize the potential of limited societal resources to promote mental health among children in Cambodia and any other low resource setting via improved understanding of how empowered communities and primary health care teams can foster an environment where challenges are resolved at local levels.



Strategic research grants funded by the Faculty of Medicine, Umeå University

Latest update: 2024-02-19