Purpose of review: This study presents an overview of the rapidly expanding field of social network analysis, with an emphasis placed on work relevant to behavioral health clinicians and researchers. I outline how social network analysis is a distinct empirical methodology within the social sciences that has the potential to deepen our understanding of how mental health and addiction are influenced by social environmental factors.
Recent findings: Whereas there have been a number of recent studies in the mental health literature that discuss social influences on mental illness and addiction, and a number of studies looking at how social networks influence health and behaviors, there are still relatively few studies that combine the two. Those that have suggest that mood symptoms as well as alcohol consumption are clustered within, and may travel along, social networks.
Summary: Social networks appear to have an important influence on a variety of mental health conditions. This avenue of research has the potential to influence both clinical practice and public policy.