Poverty and mental health in Indonesia


Community and facility studies in developing countries have generally demonstrated an inverse relationship between poverty and mental health. However, recent population-based studies contradict this. In India and Indonesia the poor and non-poor show no difference in mental health. We revisit the relationship between poverty and mental health using a validated measure of depressive symptoms (CES-D) and a new national sample from Indonesia – a country where widespread poverty and deep inequality meet with a neglected mental health service sector. Results from three-level overdispersed Poisson models show that a 1% decrease in per capita household expenditure was associated with a 0.05% increase in CES-D score (depressive symptoms), while using a different indicator (living on less than $2 a day) it was estimated that the poor had a 5% higher CES-D score than the better off. Individual social capital and religiosity were found to be positively associated with mental health while adverse events were negatively associated. These findings provide support for the established view regarding the deleterious association between poverty and mental health in developed and developing countries.