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Social Capital in Relation to Mental Health—The Voices of Adolescents in Sweden
Halmstad University, School of Health and Welfare.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0969-1288
Halmstad University, School of Health and Welfare.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3576-2393
Halmstad University, School of Health and Welfare.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4438-6673
2023 (English)In: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, ISSN 1661-7827, E-ISSN 1660-4601, Vol. 20, no 13, article id 6223Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The social environment that adolescents interact in has undoubtedly changed over the past decades. The latent constructs of social capital that have been described in theory may be universal, but it is necessary to reveal sociocultural specific pathways and manifestation in order to validly operationalize social capital for adolescents. There is a call for qualitative data to enhance our understanding of social capital for adolescents today and the specific sociocultural context they live in. The aim of this study was to explore social capital from the perspective of adolescents in relation to mental health. Twenty-three semi-structured interviews were conducted in a school setting with a sample of adolescents aged 11 and 15 years. Qualitative content analysis was applied, and analysis remained on a manifest level. From having adolescents describe their social relations and networks in relation to mental health, three main categories were formed: accessing a safe space, with sub-categories of trusting enough to share, having someone close to you, and being part of an inclusive and honest environment; feeling connected to others, with sub-categories of hanging out and having things in common; and maintaining control, with sub-categories of deciding for yourself, dealing with change, and having social skills. Having access to a safe space is vital for adolescents’ mental health, by providing resources such as mutual trust, honesty, and unconditional access. Feeling connected to others is important in close relationships and reveals the glue that holds networks together, but also links to sociability in a wider sense. Predictability in adolescents’ social relationships and networks, influenced by internal and external factors, may be a resource of increasing importance in todays’ society and an interesting subject for intervention and future research on social capital and adolescent mental health. © 2023 by the authors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Basel: MDPI, 2023. Vol. 20, no 13, article id 6223
Keywords [en]
Adolescents, Content analysis, Mental health, Networks, Qualitative, Relationships, Social capital
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Nursing Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-46315DOI: 10.3390/ijerph20136223PubMedID: 37444071Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85164844887OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-46315DiVA, id: diva2:1636585
Note

Funding: The Laholm Municipality DNR: S2018/171.

Available from: 2022-02-10 Created: 2022-02-10 Last updated: 2024-01-24Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Social capital and inequalities in mental health among young adolescents in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social capital and inequalities in mental health among young adolescents in Sweden
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis was to explore social capital and inequalities in mental health among young adolescents in Sweden. This is a compilation thesis comprising four studies. Studies I and II are quantitative studies of crosssectional data from the Swedish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey. The aim of Study I was to investigate socioeconomic inequalities in health using both a subjective and an objective measure of socioeconomic status among Swedish adolescents. The findings showed that subjective socioeconomic status robustly and independently predicted mental health problems, poor life satisfaction and poor general health perception. The association between objective socioeconomic status and mental health was weakened, and even reversed, when subjective socioeconomic status was accounted for in regression models. A Latent Profile Analysis was applied in Study II with the aim of identifying distinct profiles of family, school and peer social capital in a nationally representative sample of adolescents and to explore health outcomes in those profiles. The findings showed that five distinct profiles best represented the data for 11 and 15-year olds, while a four-profile model was optimal for 13-year olds. Significant inequalities were identified between profiles when these were examined in terms of mental health problems and life satisfaction. The design of Study III was a qualitative semi-structured interview study. The aim was to explore social capital from the perspective of adolescents in relation to mental health. Adolescents spoke of having access to a safe space, feeling connected to others and predictability as important aspects of social relationships and networks in relation to mental health. The aim of Study IV was to identify and evaluate the design and psychometric properties of instruments for assessing social capital specifically developed and validated for self-reporting among adolescents (10-19 years). The design was a systematic review, in which 20 instruments were identified. The results revealed a lack of instruments that covered both the multidimensionality of social capital and contextual relevance in relation to adolescents. The conclusion from this thesis is that social capital may be useful for identifying vulnerable individuals and for differentiating between the natural imbalance of adolescence and what may lead to serious illness. Longitudinal research and refinement of the operationalization of the concept are, however, needed to enhance the understanding of these findings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Halmstad: Halmstad University Press, 2022. p. 111
Keywords
Adolescence, Inequalities, Lifestyle, Mental health, Social capital, Socioeconomic status
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-46311 (URN)978-91-88749-81-9 (ISBN)978-91-88749-82-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2022-03-04, S1002, Kristian IV:s väg 3, Halmstad, 09:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2022-02-10 Created: 2022-02-09 Last updated: 2023-01-10Bibliographically approved

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Ahlborg, MikaelNygren, Jens M.Svedberg, Petra

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