PRFDHR Seminar: Promoting maternal mental health and early childhood development in communities exposed to violence and forced displacement in Colombia, Professor Andrés Moya

Event time: 
Tuesday, March 8, 2022 - 2:30pm to 3:45pm
Henry R. Luce Hall (LUCE ), 203 See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Seminar will be hosted online via Zoom and on-campus
Event description: 

By the end of 2020, 1 out of every 6 children was living in a region affected by violence and armed conflict. Repeated and traumatic exposure violence at an early age can severely affect children’s mental health and can therefore hinder healthy development and derail their life trajectories. In this paper Professor Moya and his co-authors report the results from a cluster-based randomized trial of Semillas de Apego, a community-based psychosocial model for mothers of young children affected by violence and forced displacement. The model aims to promote maternal mental health as an outcome itself but also as a pathway to foster the healthy child-mother emotional bonds that are essential to moderate children’s stress response and therefore to protect early childhood development amid a systematic and traumatic exposure to violence. They implemented the program in Tumaco, Colombia among caregivers exposed to violence, many of whom are also victims of forced displacement. They randomized access to the program across 18 Early Childhood Development Centers that serve vulnerable and underserved families. Over the course of four sequential cohorts, 1,372 caregivers participated in the evaluation, with 714 assigned to the treatment group and 662 to control. Group-sessions were led by community members without formal training or experience in psychosocial models but who were trained and supervised for this purpose. At the 8-month follow-up, they find positive and statistically significant impacts in three out of the four core dimensions of interest. Specifically, Professor Moya and his team observe positive impacts of 0.14 standard deviations (sd) on a maternal mental health index; 0.24 sd on an index of child-mother interactions, and 0.13 sd on early childhood mental health. Nevertheless, they do not observe any effects on early childhood development. They also find that caregivers who participated in the program were better able to cope with the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic and exhibited lower symptoms of anxiety and parental stress 1 and 9 months into the pandemic. Taken together, their findings speak to the need and feasibility of implementing quality psychosocial programs in fragile and conflict-affected settings but also on the importance of designing comprehensive strategies that address the social and economic determinants of mental health.
Andrés Moya is an Associate Professor at the Department of Economics at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, and a 2021-22 Santo Domingo Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) at Harvard University.
Professor Moya’s research focuses on the economic, psychological, and behavioral consequences of violence and forced displacement in Colombia. In particular, Professor Moya has analyzed the effects of violence and psychological trauma on economic behavior, human capital accumulation, and performance in the labor market.
Professor Moya is also a member of Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP), an invited academic at JPAL-LAC, a Faculty Affiliate at the Care and Protection of Children Learning Network (CPC), and a Research Affiliate at the Internal Displacement Research Programme at the University of London.

Andrés Moya, Universidad de Los Andes - Department of Economics and Harvard University - David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies