The relationship between poverty and mental health functioning is well documented. Poverty affects not only families’ ability to physically care for children, but also families’ stability, functioning, and psychosocial well-being. In this article, we examine the impact of a comprehensive microfinance intervention, intended to reduce the risk of poverty, on depression among adolescent youth who have lost either one or both parents to AIDS.A child who has been affected by AIDS is more likely to have increased levels of anxiety, depression, and reduced self-esteem. In Uganda, a country heavily affected by HIV/AIDS, orphaned children exhibit significantly higher depressiven symptoms compared with nonorphaned children. With appropriate economic resources and support, poor AIDS-orphaned children may overcome their disadvantaged experiences. Against that background, we hypothesize that AIDS-orphaned adolescents who were provided with a comprehensive microfinance program, consisting of matched savings accounts, training in financial management and small business development, and mentorship, would have improved mental health functioning. This study reports the results of a comprehensive microfinance intervention, which provided AIDS orphans in Uganda with a matched savings account they could use to pay for secondary schooling or to invest in family businesses, financial and business training workshops, and a mentorship program. These results support the hypothesis that a combined microfinance intervention, including matched savings accounts, workshops to support savings and business development, and mentorship, could be effective in reducing depression among AIDS-orphaned youth in Uganda.
Journal of Adolescent Health, 50, 2012
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