First Advisor

Greg Townley

Term of Graduation

Spring 2020

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Psychology






Social integration, Mental illness -- Social aspects, Mental health -- Social aspects, Community psychology



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 278 pages)


The current dissertation presents two published manuscripts and discusses a third study that explored the role of social support in promoting community participation for individuals with serious mental illnesses. The first manuscript investigated sense of community as a potential mediating factor between community participation, psychological distress, and mental health functioning utilizing quantitative methods. The results indicated that sense of community acted as a partial mediator between community participation and psychological distress, as well as mental health functioning. The second manuscript is a literature review that explored the influence of social support on community integration for individuals with serious mental illnesses. A total of 32 articles in three categories (i.e., defining community integration, supportive relationships, and mental health services) revealed that social support, which may be provided by a variety of individuals (e.g., friends, families) and services (e.g., Housing First), plays an important role in promoting community integration for individuals with serious mental illnesses. Finally, the third study identified and explored the association between social support and community participation for adults with serious mental illnesses living independently in community settings. Family, friends, and neighbors were most commonly reported as sources of support, but spouses, religious leaders, and pets provided higher levels of emotional support. Average total support was significantly related to the amount of community participation reported. Qualitative analysis revealed six themes pertaining to social support and participation, such as families spending time together and the desire to do activities with others. Overall, the three manuscripts aim to enhance our understanding of individual and community level supports that promote mental health, community participation, and ultimately, community inclusion and recovery for individuals with serious mental illnesses.


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