Social Relationships, Gender, and Mental Health: A Perspective from a Migrant-Sending Community in Mexico

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:15
Location: Hörsaal 6B P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Heather EDELBLUTE, University of Texas at San Antonio, USA
Although the role of social integration on mental health is well established, the need to understand the complex ways through which social relationships may influence mental health remains.  An extensive literature has demonstrated that the provision of social support represents a key function through which social relationships can promote well-being.  However, this research has tended to focus solely on the positive role of social relationships on adverse mental health outcomes. This focus limits the spectrum through which social relationships may affect mental health, while also neglecting to consider how relationships are embedded in larger social contexts that structure these dynamics.  In this study, I examine the ways in which the composition of social networks according to gender, kinship, and migration are connected to indicators of both positive well-being and depression.  I use egocentric network data from the Social Networks and Health Information Survey (SNHIS) (n=343), a random household survey of mothers in a migratory sending community in Mexico, to examine these relationships.  Findings from this study highlight the complex ways in which social ties are connected to mental health.  Extended kin ties, for example, are positively linked to both positive well-being and depression.  Other results highlight the robust influence of family migration and gender on mental health.  This study emphasizes the need to focus on multiple facets of mental health and to consider the social context in which relationships operate in sociological studies of mental health.