Examining Community Integration of Individuals With Psychiatric Disabilities Residing In Supported and Non-Supported Housingedit
Community integration refers to the notion that individuals with disabilities should have opportunities to live, work, engage with others, and enjoy recreational activities in the same manner as peers without disabilities. Community integration research has emerged as a high priority among mental health advocates, policy makers, and researchers. The Networks of Community Support (NoCS) study intends to fill a gap in the literature by comparing the community integration experiences of individuals living in supported housing with the experiences of individuals living in non-supported housing (i.e., housing that is not attached to rehabilitative services). To achieve this goal, the NoCS study employed a mixed-methods design (qualitative and quantitative) to document meanings and experiences of community integration from the perspectives of individuals with psychiatric disabilities; compare differences in potential determinants of community integration between individuals living in supported and non-supported housing; and assess the impact of personal characteristics, housing/ neighborhood variables, and negative community experiences on community integration. A total of 100 persons participated in this mixed-methods study. Specifically, participants were 50 individuals living in supported housing and utilizing Columbia Area Mental Health Center (CAMHC) services; and 50 individuals living in non-supported housing and utilizing Mental Illness Recovery Center, Inc. (MIRCI) services. Results suggest significant differences in housing/ neighborhood experiences between individuals in supported and non-supported housing; but minimal differences in community integration experiences. Personal characteristics (i.e., age, sex, race, car ownership, monthly income, psychiatric diagnosis, physical health impairment, and psychiatric distress); housing/ neighborhood variables (i.e., neighborhood quality, perceptions of safety, neighbor relations, residential satisfaction, neighborhood census characteristics, and proximity to stores and services); and negative community experiences (i.e., perceptions of mental health stigma and frequency of experiences with racism) emerged as significant predictors of community integration for both housing groups. Findings call attention to the need to develop new programs or refine existing interventions to promote community integration of persons with psychiatric disabilities living in various types of housing.