In times of stress the function and quality of social relationships are important safeguards to help individuals through difficult times. New research suggests parents in low-income environments are more prone to depression when there is a lack of social support.
As reported in the journal Family Relations, the finding is especially prevalent in rural regions, where mental health and social resources can be deficient.
In the study, researchers examined the relations among family income, social support, parental depression, and parenting among 290 predominantly rural families with children at risk for disruptive or socially withdrawn behaviors.
Statistical analysis of research surveys discovered low family income was related to high levels of parental depression, which in turn were associated with disruptive parenting.
The findings also showed that social support lessened the chance of parental depression in low income families. Social support was also directly related to positive parenting and indirectly related to parent-child relational frustration via parental depression.
Social support mechanisms such as community groups, churches, and school or sports-related activities, can act as a barrier against negative thinking and allow parents who are prone to depression to make more positive choices and engage in healthy parental practices.
The findings support a holistic care plan for families in need, combining skill-based interventions with social recommendations. These measures may help to decrease the detrimental effects of economic stress on individual and family functioning.