Shelley Brown

Faculty Research Fellow
Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Health Sciences,
Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Perinatal Mental Health and Human Development Working Group

Perinatal mental health is a significant global health and human rights issue, which requires a comprehensive response outside of the traditional biomedical approach to health and illness due to effects on human development throughout the life course. Critical barriers to progress include the lack of mental health governance and absence of fully implemented policies to meet sustainable development goals, and the unique vulnerabilities of women and children in poverty and low resource settings requiring increased governmental action. Given the importance of perinatal mental health for development, and the number of BU faculty engaged in research on different aspects of maternal mental health, this interdisciplinary project includes the establishment of The Perinatal Mental Health Working Group. The Working Group will facilitate research collaboration, discussion of maternal mental health as a development issue, and shape a research agenda for field research in South Africa, to be completed in subsequent years, to investigate mental health legislation and issues of equity and access to perinatal mental health services.


BA, Emory University; MPH, Boston University; PhD Student, John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies – Global Governance and Human Security (University of Massachusetts)


Human rights and health (focus on mental health); Health security; Healthcare access and equity


Shelley Brown is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Sargent College’s Department of Health Sciences, and her research focuses on the key linkages between health, human development and human rights, especially women’s mental health during the perinatal period.  She is currently involved in a number of research projects in the Southern United States and South Africa.

Shelley’s research is deeply interdisciplinary and engages the larger themes of health equity, global health governance, health systems and women’s health, utilizing both health systems data and qualitative research to inform proposed changes in policy and clinical practice. Research projects include health system responses to intimate partner violence in South Africa; translation of evidence-based policy into practice in low and middle income countries; unmet mental health and social service needs of formerly incarcerated women living with HIV in the Deep South; and constitutional obligation in South African to provide human-rights based mental health services in the perinatal period. She teaches courses in Global Health Governance and Non-Communicable Diseases.