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The role of early childhood education programmes in the promotion of child and adolescent mental health in low- and middle-income countries

Researcher Helen Baker-Henningham  opines that there is growing evidence that early childhood education (ECE) interventions can reduce the loss of developmental potential of disadvantaged children in low- and middle-income countries (LAMIC). However less attention has been paid to the potential of these programmes to prevent child mental health problems and promote child well-being. She reviewed  peer-reviewed journal articles describing controlled evaluations of ECE interventions in LAMIC to identify studies with child mental health outcomes. Studies with proximal outcomes for child mental health including caregiver practices and caregiver mental health were also reviewed. results indicated that gains to child mental health may be most likely when ECE interventions include three main elements: (i) activities to increase child skills including cognition, language, self-regulation and social-emotional competence; (ii) training caregivers in the skills required to provide a cognitively stimulating and emotionally supportive environment; and (iii) attention to the caregivers’ mental health, motivation and self-efficacy. She concludes that ECE interventions are an important component of mental health prevention and promotion in LAMIC, and promoting child and caregiver well-being is a fundamental aspect of interventions to improve child development.