Maternal mental health and the persistence of food insecurity in poor rural families.J Health Care Poor Underserved 2009; 20(3):645-61JH
Little is known about the causal relationship between and the mechanisms linking depression and food insecurity. Our purpose was to examine these knowledge gaps.
Chi-squared analysis of longitudinal data from 29 rural upstate New York families followed for three years and qualitative analysis of interviews were used to identify associations and mechanisms.
Depressive symptoms (p=.009) and poor mental health (p=.01) in mothers limited the likelihood families would leave food insecurity. This relationship was mediated through limiting the employment of adult family members and operated in three ways: preventing the depressed household member from working, preventing a different household member from working, and limiting access to childcare for depressed children so adults could work.
Poor mental health is associated with keeping families food-insecure by limiting their employment. High-quality, accessible mental health care is needed for poverty-associated food insecurity to be alleviated.