Anilena Mejia

Anilena Mejia, MSc, PhD


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Personal profile


Anilena is a Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Psychological Sciences and a full-time Monitoring & Evaluation Officer at UNICEF in Panama.  


Anilena has an MSc in Clinical and Health Psychology (1:1) and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Manchester. After completing her PhD, she worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Queensland (Australia) and as a researcher in INDICASAT (Panama) where she led a lab to prevent violence against children. She now works as a Monitoring & Evaluation Officer at UNICEF (Panama).

Her research so far has evaluated early childhood development, parenting programs and family-based interventions in low- and middle-income countries. She is also interested in understanding and preventing violence in urban and rural low-resource settings, particularly in Latin America. Her research focuses on testing and developing culturally-relevant and cost-effective preventive interventions for parents and children from high-risk vulnerable communities.

She has engaged in participatory research using visual anthropology techniques.  In 2013 she produced a short documentary to showcase the life and resilience of the women in the high-risk Panamanian neighbourhood of San Joaquin, Central America. The idea was to give voice to unheard communities, increase their international visibility and promote action. You can watch the documentary here.  Then in 2018, she produced another short documentary filmed and directed by children themselves. You can watch the documentary here.

My collaborations

Professor Rachel Calam

Professor Matthew Sanders

Dr Fiona Ulph

Dr Kim Cartwright

Dr Aala El-Khani

Professor Alison Wearden

Dr Eleonora Fichera

Dr Richard Emsley


Memberships of committees and professional bodies

  • Society for Prevention Research (SPR)
  • Society for Research on Child Development (SRCD)
  • International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (ISSBD)
  • International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN)
  • Sociedad Interamericana de Psicología (SIP)
  • International Association for Cross-cultural Psychology (IACCP)
  • International Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP)

Methodological knowledge

Randomised controlled trials

Validation of instruments

Quantitative surveys

Qualitative methods


2009, BSc Psychology (summa cum laude) - Universidad Catolica Santa Maria la Antigua, Panama

2010, MSc Clinical and Health Psychology (1:1) - The University of Manchester, United Kingdom

2014, PhD Clinical Psychology - The University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, UNICEF Panama

8 Oct 2018 → …

Honorary Research Fellow, University of Queensland

1 Dec 2015 → …


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