Social Capital and Mental Health
Kwame McKenzie and Trudy Harpham, Jessica Kingsley Press
STAR RATING: 4/5
It has been known for many years that individuals in one area can have better levels of mental health than people who live in other areas, writes Bridget Penhale.
The effects of social context and social structure on health are well documented. The concept of social capital provides a slightly different take on the issue, as it attempts to discover the features of populations in different areas that are crucial in determining the extent and the quality of social interactions and the social institutions within society. Such factors as social networks, levels of participation in civil life (as a citizen) and levels of trust within communities are all associated with social capital.
This book provides a detailed exploration of the concept, on its effects on psychological functioning and on the risk factors for mental health that are associated with communities that have either high or low levels of social capital.
This is achieved through useful presentation of research findings from the UK and elsewhere that considers levels of social capital and mental health status. The importance of social relationships between individuals, groups and organisations is discussed and different types of social capital that might exist within or between groups are explored.
The authors also argue that the notion of community as a concept based on geography is outdated and suggest, rather, that the term “community” should encompass broader bases such as race, faith or social exclusion
The need for holistic and socially inclusive approaches towards people with mental health difficulties is emphasised throughout and the importance of social capital for mental health is highlighted.
Bridget Penhale is a social care author and senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield