Exploring the Association of Community Integration in Mental Health among Formerly Homeless Individuals Living in Permanent Supportive Housing [2020]

Supportive housing has been widely used among persons experiencing chronic homelessness and/or mental health conditions. While it has been demonstrated to be effective in addressing homelessness among populations with complex needs, community integration remains a challenge. Community integration is the extent to which individuals live, participate, and socialize in their community and consists of three aspects: physical, social, and psychological. The study utilized data from the Transitions to Housing project that followed formerly homeless individuals (N = 383) throughout their first year of residence in permanent supportive housing (PSH). The study set out to examine which aspects of community integration are associated with mental health symptoms in this population. Five nested multivariate linear regression models were conducted and then compared. The model that accounted for demographics, substance use, neighborhood quality, and all three aspects of community integration simultaneously was the best fit and explained the most variance in mental health symptoms (24%). The complete model suggested higher levels of psychological integration were significantly associated with decreased mental health symptoms in this sample. This finding suggests fostering a sense of belonging among PSH residents could improve mental health outcomes. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

Highlights
Better psychological integration is associated with better mental health among individuals living in PSH.
In separate models, physical and social integration had a positive relationship with mental health.
Neighborhood quality had a quadratic relationship with mental health in this sample.
Substance use had a consistent and significant association with increased mental health symptoms.

Wichada La Motte‐Kerr, Harmony Rhoades, Benjamin Henwood, Eric Rice, Suzanne Wenzel
American Journal of Community Psychology, 27 August 2020
DOI
Website