Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


Background: Pregnant adolescent girls and young women (AGYW, aged 12–24 years) are at high risk for mental health problems, particularly in the Sub-Saharan African (SSA) region.

Methods: We performed a systematic review of mental health studies among pregnant AGYW in SSA published between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2020 in PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, PsycInfo, and Global Index Medicus following PRISMA guidelines (PROSPERO: CRD42021230980). We used Bronfenbrenner's bioecological model to frame and synthesize results from included studies.

Findings: Our search yielded 945 articles from which 18 studies were included (N = 8 quantitative, N = 9 qualitative, N = 1 case report). The most frequently studied mental health problem was depression (N = 9 studies); the most frequently utilized measurement tool was the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (N = 3). Studies reported life course factors, individual, microsystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem-level factors associated with mental health problems. Gaps in mental health service delivery for pregnant AGYW included lack of confidentiality, judgmental healthcare worker attitudes, and lack of services tailored to their unique needs.

Interpretation: Gaps remain in research and services for mental health among pregnant AGYW in SSA. Integration of mental health services within school, community, and healthcare settings that are tailored to pregnant AGYW could strengthen health systems within SSA.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.