157570 Effects of Perceived Social Supports on Psychological Distress Trajectories among African American and White Men

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Jim Amell, PhD , W.K. Kellogg Health Scholar, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Stephanie Robert, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Studies suggest not only that incidence rates of mental health problems including anxiety and depression are increasing among men (Kessler & Zhao, 1999), but also that men are more likely to cope with mental health problems in harmful ways including substance abuse, compulsive behavior, and suicide (NIMH, 2003). A recent campaign targeting depressive symptoms in men initiated by NIMH (2003) suggests that interpersonal supports from family and friends may provide a healthy means of coping and access to mental health intervention. This study examined the effects of social support from family and friends on psychological distress trajectories among a sample of 385 African American and 878 White men. Using three waves of data from the Americans' Changing Lives Survey, we applied growth curve modeling to examine the direct effects of social support on men's mental health trajectories over eight years. We also examined whether social support functions primarily as mediator and/or buffer on men's mental health in the face of stressors such as race and poverty. Study results revealed that, at baseline, the effects of social support from family and friends were associated with lower levels of psychological distress among African American and White men. Moreover, results revealed support buffered the negative effect of poverty on men's baseline psychological distress. Unexpectedly, results over time found that men who reported having more social support exhibited greater declines in mental health. Results from this study did not reveal any mediating effects of social supports on stressors and mental health.

Learning Objectives:
Recognize the importance of menís mental health as well as interpersonal supports from friends and relatives on menís mental health. Evaluate whether perceived social supports from friends and relatives reduces depressive symptoms among men over time. Evaluate whether perceived social supports mediate and/or moderate race and poverty differences in menís psychological distress trajectories.

Keywords: Male Health, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.