Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to summarise two 2014 research papers that highlight the role of social interactions and the social world in recovery in the context of mental distress.
Design/methodology/approach: The author summarise two papers: one is about two theories from social psychology that help us understand social identity – our sense of who we are. The other brings together and looks at the similarities and differences between ten different therapies that can be called resource-oriented – that is, they focus on people's strengths and resources rather than what is wrong with them.
Findings: The paper on social identity gives a convincing case for incorporating teaching about social identity – and the social groups to which people belong – into the training of mental health professionals. The paper on resource-oriented therapies suggests that social relationships are a main component of all ten therapies examined. This second paper suggested a need for more research and theory relating to resource-oriented therapies. Social identity theory could help address this issue. Mental health services may be able to help people more by focusing on their established and desired social identities and group-belonging, and their strengths, than is usual.
Originality/value: These two papers seem timely given the growing recognition of the role of social factors in the development and maintenance of mental distress. More attention to social factors in recovery could help make it more self-sustaining.
DARBYSHIRE Laura Valerie, KROESE Biza Stenfert
The pressure of becoming a parent for a person with intellectual disabilities (ID) may magnify the risks of social isolation and poor psychological well-being. This review examined the psychological well-being and social support among parents with ID, addressing three aims that explore the importance of these two factors in their lives. A search of electronic databases uncovered eight studies which met the inclusion criteria. Findings revealed that parents with ID experience poorer psychological well-being than the general parenting population and a relationship was found between psychological well-being and social support. Two of the intervention studies found evidence that by improving social support, psychological well-being was improved. The relationship between social support and parenting ability was supported by findings of a positive relationship between satisfaction with social support and positive maternal reactions. A number of recommendations for further research are suggested to more fully explore the relationship between psychological well-being and social support.
In this article, the author reviews findings in dementia care on interventions and on quality of life with the aim of identifying factors associated with quality of life which can form the basis for interventions enhancing quality of life for people with dementia. The article looks at evaluation of well-being and quality of life in people with dementia, including the importance of "hearing the voice of people with dementia", and the key factors predicting quality of life in people with dementia. Drawing on this, it suggests potential strategies and interventions for improving quality of life in people with dementia: improve mood, maintain health, hopeful staff attitudes, reduce use of anti-psychotic medication, enhance relationship with carer, encourage family involvement, cognitive stimulation and cognitive rehabilitation, and creative activities and approaches.
HEMINGWAY Ann, JACK Eleanor
A UK charity established a network of 70 friendship clubs in the south of England, facilitated by volunteers, with the aim of promoting well-being for older people. The charity provides venues and transport for participants to meet and enjoy activities locally every week for 2 hours. This article reports on a 3 year research project exploring the impacts of the intervention, using qualitative research methods and including participant observation and individual and focus group interviews. The study was based on 10 of the friendship clubs and collected information from 82 members and 18 volunteers. The article describes the intervention and the study methodology. It presents the results, with illustrative quotations from participants, covering views on the risk of becoming isolated, feeling isolated, and friendship and support. It identifies additional factors that can predispose an individual to become socially isolated, including environment and safety fears, fear of falling, and loss of confidence, and notes that even when living with their families older people can still feel socially isolated. It reports that club members and volunteers viewed themselves as assets for each other, offering support, advice and friendship, and that, overall, the perceived benefits for attendees of attending the friendship clubs fell into 3 key areas: improved well-being, social relations, and mental and physical health.