A little goes a long way: the impact of distal social support on community integration and recovery of individuals with psychiatric disabilities


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Although an extensive body of literature highlights the important role of social support for individuals with psychiatric disabilities, definitions of support tend to be restricted-focusing on intimate relationships such as friend and family networks and ignoring the role of casual relationships existing naturally in the community. This mixed-methods study of 300 consumers of mental health services in the Southeastern US aims to better understand the impact of community supports, termed distal supports, on community integration and recovery from mental illness. Qualitative content analysis, tests of group mean differences, and hierarchical linear regression analyses revealed the following: (1) participants primarily reported receiving tangible support (e.g., free medication/discounted goods) from distal supports rather than emotional support (e.g., displays of warmth/affection) or informational support (e.g., provision of advice); (2) women and older participants reported more distal supports than men or younger participants; and (3) distal supports played a unique role in predicting community integration and recovery even after accounting for the influence of traditional support networks. Results highlight the importance of considering diverse types of social support in naturally occurring settings when designing treatment plans and interventions aimed at encouraging community participation and adaptive functioning for individuals with psychiatric disabilities.

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