Institute for Global Health


Helen Mebrahtu

Helen's thesis title is "The impact of maternal mental health on child cognitive development in the presence of HIV, a study in Zimbabwe."

Her primary supervisor is Professor Lorraine Sherr.

To get in touch with Helen, please email her at helen.mebrahtu.15@ucl.ac.uk.

About Helen

Helen has a BSc in Biomedical Science from the University of Roehampton and an MSc in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  She has previously worked with international NGOs in sexual health programmes as well as working within the  National Infection Services in Public Health England as an  HIV/STI Surveillance and Prevention Scientist where she was involved in the implementation of a new surveillance dataset and analyses of infectious disease data.

Helen has extensive knowledge of different aspects of public health such as research methods, health policy, infectious disease epidemiology, health promotion, disease surveillance and control, health needs assessment and prioritization as well as health statistics. Her research interests include mental health, HIV infection , child and adolescent health, and psychological aspects of health. 

Thesis summary

Helen's research project explores the impact of maternal mental health on the cognitive development of HIV exposed young children in rural Zimbabwe. The PhD project is nested within a cluster randomized controlled trial (the Child Health Intervention for Development Outcomes-CHIDO trial) which evaluated the effectiveness of a combined parenting and income-generating programme, to enhance child development outcomes. She has worked closely with field investigators on trial data collection and management as well as taking lead responsibility in investigating child developmental outcomes.

As part of her PhD, Helen has been involved in interpreting and providing advice on complex epidemiological and statistical information about the mental health burdens of study populations to various stakeholders. Through her research, she aims to explore the detrimental impacts of maternal mental health burdens on early child development in resource limited settings, and her findings inform future research, interventions programs as well as policy makers in similar settings.