Correlates of Mental Distress in Jimma Town, Ethiopia

  • Ermias Mekonnen
  • Samuel Esayas


BACKGROUND: In low-income countries where malnutrition and preventable infectious diseases are common, mental disorders, which are regarded as non-life threatening, problems are not given due attention. It is well known fact that mental illness leads to poverty, malnutrition and disability consequently to the increased risk for mortality. The main objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of mental distress and related sociodemographic and other risk factors. METHODS: A cross-sectional community based study was conducted in Jimma town, south west of Ethiopia, between January 8 and February 1, 2002. The study utilized self reporting questionnaire-20 (SRQ-20) which was designed by WHO, and by multistage sampling, 1006 individuals were included in the study. Data analysis was done using SPSS version 7.5. RESULTS: Using a cut-off level of at least 6 out of 20 items categorized, 22.7% of the study population had mental distress. Women had statistically significant increased risk of having mental distress than men: OR(95%CI)=1.90 (1.22,2.94). There was also a significant increased risk with illiteracy than those having tertiary education: OR(95% CI) =2.93 (1.23-6.96). Unemployed individuals had shown increased risk of having mental illness than professionals: OR(95%CI)=2.72 (1.44,5.13). Family history of mental illness was positively associated with Risk: OR (95%CI) =2.22 (1.24-3.98). Age, marital status, Religion, family income and size were not significantly associated with risk of mental distress. CONCULSION: Based on the result mental distress is fairly common in Jimma town and the decentralization of mental health service and its integration with primary health care and use of community health agents in creating awareness among the community members is recommended.

Ethiop J Health Sci. Vol. 13, No. 1 January 2003

Author Biographies

Ermias Mekonnen
Jimma University, Faculty of Medical Sciences, P.O. Box 378, Jimma, Ethiopia
Samuel Esayas
Jimma University, Faculty of Medical Sciences, P.O. Box 378, Jimma, Ethiopia

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1029-1857
print ISSN: 1029-1857