Friday, August 2, 2013

Neighborhood Conditions May Affect Community Integration of Those With Serious Mental Illness

Deteriorated neighborhoods contain more than their share of people with serious mental illness and that may be a barrier to their integration into community settings, according to a study in the APA journal Psychiatric Services.

Researchers studied the neighborhood characteristics of a sample of 15,246 adults in Philadelphia who were treated for mental illness between 1997 and 2000 and compared them to people at random addresses from across the city. They looked at 22 variables, including crime, demolished or damaged properties, home values, one-person households, gas-service shut offs, and home ownership rates.

The association wasn’t merely driven by poverty, explained Thomas Byrne, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues. “Apart from delinquent crime, all other components [cited above] were found to have a significant association with neighborhood concentration of serious mental illness…” The need for research into the relationship between community characteristics is important in light of recent trends placing individuals with serious mental illness more in scattered individual housing in the community and less in group homes, said the authors.

Further study could, they said, “help identify new areas of intervention intended to promote the functioning and integration of persons with serious mental illness.”

For more in Psychiatric News about communities and mental health, click here and here.

(Image: Stockelements/


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