Poverty and Mental Health in Three Inner City Communities in Accra, Ghana

Maame Peterson, University of Ghana
Francis Nii-Amoo Dodoo, Pennsylvania State University and University of Ghana

Despite the well-known relationship between poverty and mental health, rapid urbanization and growth of slums in sub-Saharan Africa, and increasing appreciation of common mental health problems in countries in the region such as Ghana, little is known about mental well-being in urban poor communities, and the socio-economic and demographic risk factors associated with these problems. Data from a cross-sectional survey (EDULINK 2011) conducted in three urban poor communities of Accra—that distinguish one slum community from two non-slum ones—show that psychological distress is substantial, with a 55% prevalence of “very high” psychological distress. A multinomial logistic regression analysis reveals a somewhat surprising finding where after controlling for a host of predictor variables, the poorest of the three communities had the highest social capital, and the lowest odds of individuals having “poor” mental health, suggesting that social capital may attenuate the negative effect of poverty. The implications for plausible interventions are discussed.

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Presented in Poster Session 8: Adult Health and Mortality