Psychological distress in Ghana: Associations with employment and lost productivity

Maureen E. Canavan*, Heather L. Sipsma, Achyuta Adhvaryu, Angela Ofori-Atta, Helen Jack, Christopher Udry, Isaac Osei-Akoto, Elizabeth H. Bradley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Mental health disorders account for 13% of the global burden of disease, a burden that low-income countries are generally ill-equipped to handle. Research evaluating the association between mental health and employment in low-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, is limited. We address this gap by examining the association between employment and psychological distress. Methods: We analyzed data from the Ghana Socioeconomic Panel Survey using logistic regression (N = 5,391 adults). In multivariable analysis, we estimated the association between employment status and psychological distress, adjusted for covariates. We calculated lost productivity from unemployment and from excess absence from work that respondents reported was because of their feelings of psychological distress.Findings: Approximately 21% of adults surveyed had moderate or severe psychological distress. Increased psychological distress was associated with increased odds of being unemployed. Men and women with moderate versus mild or no psychological distress had more than twice the odds of being unemployed. The association of severe versus mild or no distress with unemployment differed significantly by sex (P-value for interaction 0.004). Among men, the adjusted OR was 12.4 (95% CI: 7.2, 21.3), whereas the association was much smaller for women (adjusted OR = 3.8, 95% CI: 2.5, 6.0). Extrapolating these figures to the country, the lost productivity associated with moderate or severe distress translates to approximately 7% of the gross domestic product of Ghana. Conclusions: Psychological distress is strongly associated with unemployment in Ghana. The findings underscore the importance of addressing mental health issues, particularly in low-income countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Systems
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 7 2013

Keywords

  • Employment
  • Low-income countries
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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