First Advisor

Greg Townley

Date of Publication

Spring 7-20-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Mental illness -- Treatment, Social integration, Mental health -- Social aspects, Distress (Psychology) Community mental health services



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 86 pages)


The Community Mental Health Act of 1963 launched the deinstitutionalization movement, whereby individuals with serious mental illnesses were released from psychiatric hospitals and began living and receiving mental health care in the community (Carling, 1995). However, these actions have not necessarily integrated those individuals into all aspects of community life (Dewees, Pulice, & McCormick, 1996). This is unfortunate because people with serious mental illnesses frequently report that community integration is not only important to them, but that it also aids in reducing symptoms and promoting recovery (Townley, 2015). Although past research suggests that receiving mental health care in the community has a positive impact on symptom management, the influence of other community factors (e.g., sense of community, community participation) has yet to be fully explored (Segal, Silverman, & Temkin, 2010). Furthermore, there is lack of understanding as to how these community factors influence other aspects of recovery, such as mental and physical health. As such, the goal of the current study is to better understand the association between community participation and recovery by investigating sense of community as a potential mediating factor between community participation, psychological distress, mental health, and physical health. Data were collected from 300 adults with serious mental illnesses utilizing community mental health services in the United States. Results indicated that sense of community partially mediated the association between community participation and mental health, as well as psychological distress, and fully mediated the association between community participation and physical health. Implications include contributing to the current knowledge base about the role of community factors in recovery and informing future interventions aimed at promoting community integration of adults with serious mental illnesses.


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