Multidimensional predictors of common mental disorders among Indian mothers of 6- to 24-month-old children living in disadvantaged rural villages with women’s self-help groups: A cross-sectional analysis
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Common mental disorders (CMD) among mothers cause disability, negatively affect child development, and have high long-term economic costs. Little is known about how factors across multiple life dimensions, modeled together, are differentially related to maternal mental health in high poverty contexts. Further, there is limited evidence on determinants of CMD in areas where self-help groups (SHGs) exist to promote women's wellbeing. Filling this evidence gap is important given the high prevalence of CMD and the rapid expansion of SHGs in rural India. Cross-sectional data were collected from 1644 mother-infant pairs living in disadvantaged rural villages across five Indian states-Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh-surveyed in the Women Improving Nutrition through Group-based Strategies study. CMD were assessed using the 20-item Self Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ). We examined 31 factors across four life dimensions: work (work type, time spent in labor, domestic and caretaking activities), agency (SHG membership, decision-making, gender attitudes), health/nutrition (underweight, fertility, diet diversity, child illness), and household/environment (dependency ratio, wealth, food security, shocks, water, sanitation). Survey-adjusted multivariate logistic and ordinary least squares regression models were fit to examine predictors of CMD or SRQ score. On average, mothers were 26 (range 18-46) years old and their children were 15 (range 6-24) months old. CMD defined as >= 8 positive SRQ responses were reported by 262 women (16%). Protective factors included being engaged in agricultural labor as a main occupation relative to being a housewife (AOR 0.18, 95% CI 0.10-0.32), more time working (0.85, 0.77-0.93), higher decision-making (0.33, 0.16-0.69), SHG membership (0.73, 0.56-0.96), and having an improved toilet (0.49, 0.33-0.72). Risk factors included food insecurity (1.13, 1.07-1.20) and shocks to non-farm livelihoods (2.04, 1.10-3.78). Practitioners and policymakers should aim to improve food security, economic wellbeing and social capital, such as that created through SHG membership, to improve maternal mental health. Future research should aim to understand why working outside the home, albeit in agricultural work, appears to protect maternal mental health in this context.
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