Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Social capital and children's mental health

Social capital has been defined as 'the social cohesion of a community, and the sense of belonging and the level of involvement in community affairs.' Recently researchers have become increasingly interested in the links between social capital and health, in particular mental illness. Evidence from the U.S. suggests that social capital is strongly linked to children's well being but it is not clear if this is the case in the U.K. Researchers from Birmingham University studied 90 parents who had children between the ages of 4 and 18 with either an emotional or a behavioural disorder. They gave them questionnaires about their children's behaviour and asked them about social capital. Overall, the researchers found no significant link between the parents' social-capital scores and their children's diagnosis, and the severity of their problems. However, two aspects of social capital did have an effect on the children's mental health. 'Perceptions of the local area,' was significantly associated with the severity of the children's problems i.e. the worse people thought an area was the worse their children's problems were. Parents of children with emotional disorders were found to have significantly poorer social networks than parents of children with behavioural disorders.

Pearson, Laura Jane and Oyebode, Femi - Social capital and childhood psychiatric disorders: a cross-sectional study Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry April 2009, 14(2), 183-194

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