Research Article

Come together to decrease depression: Women’s mental health, social capital, and participation in a Kenyan combined microfinance program


Michael L. Goodman, Aleisha J. Elliott, Stanley Gitari, Philip Keiser, Erica Onwuegbuchu, Nicole Michael and, Sarah Seidel


Goodman ML, Elliott AJ, Gitari S, Keiser P, Onwuegbuchu E, Michael N, Seidel S. Come Together to Decrease Depression: Women's mental health, social capital, and participation in a Kenyan combined microfinance program. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2021 Sep;67(6):613-621. doi: 10.1177/0020764020966014. Epub 2020 Oct 16. PMID: 33059496; PMCID: PMC8050113.

Publication Date

September 2021

Publication Year




Background: Tools and systems to improve mental health have been understudied in low-resource environments, such as sub-Saharan Africa. This study explores depression amongst women participating in a community-based intervention combining savings- and lending-groups, entrepreneurial training and other skills training.

Aims: This study aims to determine whether depression decreases with more program participation, and the extent to which social capital variables may explain these changes.

Method: Survey data were gathered in June 2018, within 6 months of group formation, and again in June 2019 from 400 women participants in the program. Data between 2018 and 2019 were compared using Wilcoxon rank-sum and Chi square tests. Inferential statistics included random effects regression models and general structural equation models.

Results: At 1-year follow-up, depression and loneliness amongst Kenyan women (n = 400) participating in the program had decreased. Social capital remained higher within groups than within the broader community, and mediated the association between program participation and decreased depression.

Conclusions: Findings suggest this novel, community-based intervention has the potential to benefit mental health. Future research, including a randomised control trial, is required to establish (1) the extent of the program’s benefits and (2) the program’s application to particular subject areas and population segments.