Depression is often neglected in current health policy debates on chronic disease care in low-resource settings, despite its sizable economic and social impact on those affected. Depression is strongly associated with low earnings, low productivity, reduced human capital investments and low levels of social participation. Given the likely bi-directional causal relationship between mental health and socioeconomic outcomes, depression is likely to be a major driver of health-related poverty traps and a key obstacle to health-led economic development. Like all of our other experiments, this proposed mental health intervention will also look its impact on (mental) health as well as economic and social outcomes, but also allows us to include an additional innovation in studying the interaction between illness and socio-economic status, which can be implemented with the help of a local social service organization, Grameena Abudaya Seva Samsthe (GASS).
The purpose of the proposed intervention is at least threefold: To (1) evaluate the impact of depression treatment on (mental) health and socioeconomic outcomes; (2) evaluate the impact of economic assistance on depression; and (3) assess whether economic circumstances moderate the impact of depression treatment. To achieve this goal, the study will collaborate with the international non-profit organization Basic Needs (BN) and GASS to enlist 1,500 adult women with mild or moderate depression who stand to benefit from job placement (persons suspected to suffer from severe depression will be directly referred to a medical setting).