A project designed and delivered by a Young Champion, Amy, with support from Centre staff, Lingo provides insights into the experiences of children and young people when they talk about their mental health to adults and professionals (pages 3-8). This booklet also provides insights into the experiences of the adults and professionals that children and young people come into contact with.

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To test whether compared to the control intervention emotional stimulation leads to

  • Faster recovery of children with severe acute malnutrition
  • Greater improvements in social and emotional outcomes of the children
  • Greater improvements in the mothers’ wellbeing and sense of mastery

We also aim to establish protocols to ensure that this intervention can be scaled up beyond the experimental sites.


This study is a cluster-randomised controlled trial comparing two interventions for the treatment of severely malnourished children aged between 6 months and 5 years. It is being carried out in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNP) of Ethiopia.

The 400 children taking part had all presented with malnourishment to the community health services in their local areas. The services had been randomly allocated to offer either emotional stimulation (12 health posts) or nutritional education (12 health posts) in addition to emergency food supplements.

Both interventions were delivered by local health extension workers (health care assistants) and paid young volunteers recruited from neighbouring villages. They each involved 12 weekly one hour coaching sessions, either in the home or at the health post. The emotional stimulation intervention focuses on improving the parent child relationship, whereas the nutritional education focuses on dietary and hygiene issues.

To assess the extent and rate of weight gain in the children, the health extension workers took height and weight measurements at enrolment and at 1, 7, 12 and 24 weeks following treatment. They also collected data on the children’s social and emotional development and the mothers’ wellbeing using tools that had been translated into the local language.


Data collection has been completed and we are now conducting a follow-up of the trial to gain a better understanding of the longer-term effects of the emotional stimulation intervention.

We are currently analysing the data, results TBC.

Research Project Team

Research project team members

  • Professor Peter Fonagy
  • Dr Alessandro Conticini
  • Rose Palmer


  • Lynn Murray
  • Chris McManus
  • Rodney Rivers


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