Children's mental health service use, neighbourhood socioeconomic deprivation, and social capital

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2003 Sep;38(9):507-14. doi: 10.1007/s00127-003-0665-9.


Background: There is accumulating evidence that the shared social environment at the neighbourhood level exerts significant effects on health over and above individual level variables. The aim of this study was to assess the interactive influence of neighbourhood measures of socioeconomic deprivation and social capital (i. e. informal social control, social cohesion and trust) on children's mental health service use, independent of individual level confounders.

Methods: Two different data sources were used: 1) individual socioeconomic measures, derived from a case-control study in which case/control status indicated mental health service use or not, and 2) neighbourhood measures of socioeconomic deprivation and social capital. The data were subjected to multilevel logistic regression analysis.

Results: Children living in more deprived neighbourhoods run a higher risk of coming into contact with mental health care services. The social capital variables (informal social control and social cohesion and trust) did not exert main effects, but strong trust and social cohesion between citizens in the neighbourhood mitigated the risk-increasing effect of socioeconomic deprivation on children's mental health service use.

Conclusions: The deleterious effects of socioeconomic deprivation on mental health service use in children are sensitive to the context of cohesion and trust in neighbourhoods. Effects of deprivation on children's mental health cannot be interpreted without taking into account the context of social capital.

MeSH terms

  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Child
  • Community Mental Health Services / economics*
  • Community Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders* / economics
  • Mental Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Poverty Areas
  • Psychosocial Deprivation
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Factors