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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2012 May;47(5):697-709. doi: 10.1007/s00127-011-0391-7. Epub 2011 May 10.

Family social support, community "social capital" and adolescents' mental health and educational outcomes: a longitudinal study in England.

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Centre for Psychiatry, Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Charterhouse Square, London, EC1M 6BQ, UK.



To examine the associations between family social support, community "social capital" and mental health and educational outcomes.


The data come from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England, a multi-stage stratified nationally representative random sample. Family social support (parental relationships, evening meal with family, parental surveillance) and community social capital (parental involvement at school, sociability, involvement in activities outside the home) were measured at baseline (age 13-14), using a variety of instruments. Mental health was measured at age 14-15 (GHQ-12). Educational achievement was measured at age 15-16 by achievement at the General Certificate of Secondary Education.


After adjustments, good paternal (OR = 0.70, 95% CI 0.56-0.86) and maternal (OR = 0.65, 95% CI 0.53-0.81) relationships, high parental surveillance (OR = 0.81, 95% CI 0.69-0.94) and frequency of evening meal with family (6 or 7 times a week: OR = 0.77, 95% CI 0.61-0.96) were associated with lower odds of poor mental health. A good paternal relationship (OR = 1.27, 95% CI 1.06-1.51), high parental surveillance (OR = 1.37, 95% CI 1.20-1.58), high frequency of evening meal with family (OR = 1.64, 95% CI 1.33-2.03) high involvement in extra-curricular activities (OR = 2.57, 95% CI 2.11-3.13) and parental involvement at school (OR = 1.60, 95% CI 1.37-1.87) were associated with higher odds of reaching the educational benchmark. Participating in non-directed activities was associated with lower odds of reaching the benchmark (OR = 0.79, 95% CI 0.70-0.89).


Building social capital in deprived communities may be one way in which both mental health and educational outcomes could be improved. In particular, there is a need to focus on the family as a provider of support.

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