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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2007 Dec;16(10):1386-96.

Social support networks and maternal mental health and well-being.

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National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


The link between social networks and mental health has increasingly been recognized by public health as an important topic of interest. In this paper, we explore this association among a specific group: mothers. Specifically, we discuss how maternal mental health can be understood in the context of social networks, the influence of specific social relationships, and how the type and quality of support can mediate maternal mental health outcomes. We review interventions that foster social networks to address maternal mental health as well as other related health outcomes. Findings suggest that interventions that combine multiple treatment approaches may be more effective in addressing mental health. Also, traditional measures of social networks may not be appropriate for vulnerable populations, with qualitative, rather than quantitative, indicators of social networks being more predictive of maternal health and well-being. The implications of these findings and future research directions are discussed.

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