Mental Health Therapy as a Core Strategy for Increasing Human Capital: Evidence from Ghana
We study the impact of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for individuals selected from the general population of poor households in rural Ghana. Results from 2-3 months after a randomized intervention show strong impacts on mental and physical health, cognitive and socioemotional skills, and downstream economic outcomes. We find no evidence of heterogeneity by baseline mental distress; we argue that this is because CBT can improve human capital for a general population of poor individuals through two pathways. First, CBT reduces vulnerability to deteriorating mental health; and second, CBT directly improves bandwidth, increasing cognitive and socioemotional skills and hence economic outcomes.
The authors thank Ishmail Azindoo Baako, Daniel Janamah Duut, Abubukari Bukari, Kamal-Deen Mohammed, Richard Appiah, David Djani Kotey, Salifu Amadu, Issah Mohammed, Madeleen Husselman, Kelsey Larson and Sarina Jain at Innovations for Poverty Action for excellent project management and research assistance in the design, implementation and analysis of the project. The authors thank the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the Wellspring Foundation, for funding support for research and implementation. All errors and opinions are our own. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.