Social assets and mental distress among the homeless: Exploring the roles of social support and other forms of social capital on depression

Jay Irwin, Mark LaGory, Ferris Ritchey, Kevin Fitzpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper explores the role of social capital in mediating the effects of stressors on depression among a disadvantaged population. Utilizing a survey of 155 homeless people in a mid-sized southern U.S. city, the authors address the relevance of social capital for quality of life. The paper provides a critical test of whether social support and other forms of social capital matter when monetary and human capital is extremely limited. Under these resource-restricted circumstances does social capital add to our understanding of the distress process or does it merely restate the well established relationship between social support and quality of life outcomes? Various forms of social capital are measured: religious social capital, group participation, social trust, and bridging social capital along with a commonly used measure of social support -- perceived strong tie support. Findings suggest that social capital matters for even the most resource poor populations. In addition, social capital variables add significantly to the variance explained in depressive symptomatology over and above that traditionally explained by perceived social support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1935-1943
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume67
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Distress
  • Homelessness
  • Social capital
  • Social support
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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