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    Mental health change in the transition to permanent supportive housing: The role of housing and social networks

    Journal of Community Psychology

    Year: 2019

    Aims: Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) may improve homeless adults’ mental health via housing stabilization and/or improved relational factors, however, the role of housing and social networks on PSH residents’ mental health change is minimally understood.

    Methods: Interviews were conducted with a baseline sample of adults experiencing homelessness ( N = 421), across their initial year in PSH (3-months, 6-months, and 12-months). Generalized linear mixed models assessed changes in positive past-month psychiatric disability screenings (Modified-Colorado Symptom Index [MCSI]) and probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PC-PTSD) in controlled models, and between and within-subject effects of time-varying social network correlates on mental health changes.

    Results: Compared with baseline, positive MCSI screens continuously decreased over time (56%, 54%, and 50%) while PC-PTSD screens declined initially (40%) with marginal decreases at remaining follow-ups (39% and 38%). These differences remained significant in controlled models. Gaining a romantic partner was associated with a longitudinal increase in a positive MCSI screening. Between subjects, emotional health counselors and conflicting network members were associated with an increased likelihood in positive screenings, while doctors and case managers were protective.

    Conclusion: Housing may facilitate positive changes in PSH residents’ mental health, yet positive screenings remain high. Social network interventions that increase residents’ positive interpersonal exchanges and prosocial relationships are warranted.

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