Iria Noa de la Fuente-Roldán (Department of Social Work and Social Services. Social Work Faculty (Complutense University of Madrid)
Esteban Sánchez-Moreno: Research Institute on Development and Cooperation of the Complutense University of Madrid (IUCD-UCM). Department of Sociology: Methodology and Theory (Complutense University of Madrid).
Red FACIAM: (Federación de Entidades y Centros para la Integración y Ayuda de Marginados)
Topic: More than housing: homelessness, social support, and mental health
The reality of homeless people is characterised by the presence of different difficulties that contribute to defining the extreme processes of social exclusion that affect them. Social isolation and mental health problems are one of the more refereed. In this sense, the analysis of social support is a key element for this importance to modulate people’s psychological and social well-being.
The present proposal gathers the results of a cross-sectional, descriptive, and correlational study developed through a mixed methodological design that aimed to analyse the social relations and the social support of homeless people from Madrid (Spain) (Oslo Social Support Scale; OSSS-3; Kocalevent et al., 2018) and their impact on psychological well-being (General Health Questionnaire; GHQ-12; Goldberg y Williams, 1988). The research techniques used were the questionnaire (n= 641) and in-depth interview (n= 18).
The results show that as levels of social support decrease, the risk of mental health problems increases. This is especially significant in women, young people, and people from foreign countries. At the same time, the discursive material points to the importance of relational conflict as a key element in understanding the impact of social relationships on the psychological well-being of homeless people.
It is concluded that social isolation, conflict in interpersonal relationships and difficulties in accessing to social support, are central elements to addressing the mental health of homeless people. This has important implications for social action, as it refers to the need to analyse homelessness considering the socio-relational aspects in which the housing problems are embedded. In other words, this study shows that in a context of difficulty accessing social networks, particularly for homeless, access to basic features of community life – social relations – is a key factor in improving quality of life among this population.