Methods: The data were collected as part of the VSLG program evaluation conducted in Mozambique. The study applied a posttest-only comparison group quasi-experimental design and sampled female VSLG participants and non-participants from three sub-villages in the Sofala province. A multi-stage sampling technique was employed, and a total of 205 women were randomly selected to participate in the study, including 105 VSLG participants and 100 non-participants. Depressive symptoms were measured using the short version of the Edinburgh Depression Scale (EDS) with a summative score ranging from 7 to 28. Using the cutoff value at a score of 14, we created a dichotomous depression indicator. Linear and logit models were used to examine the associations of the VSLG participation and the participation duration with the depression score and the presence of depression controlling for demographic variables.
Results: The VSLG participants group had a statistically lower mean depression score of 12.2 (SD=4.4) compared to non-participants (15.0, SD=4.0, p<.001). The regression analysis suggests that the VSLG participants had the mean depression score 2.7 lower than the non-participants (p<.001). Nearly 60% of the non-participants reported the presence of depression; however, this percentage is 31% for participants (p<.001). Multivariate logit model indicated the odds for the presence of depression for participants are .34 of that for non-participants. Similar results were obtained when the VSLG program duration is used as an independent variable.
Conclusions: Study findings show a positive association between the VSLG participation and women’s mental health. Future research should further explore the intervention mechanisms and assess how the VSLG participation affects women’s mental health. Findings also provide important insights into how to develop community-based financial capability interventions to improve low-income women’s mental health.