Objectives. Lack, loss, or poverty of the individual's social network are regarded as important factors in the pathogenesis of mental disorders. The aim of the study was to assess the quality of individual social support networks in the long-term mentally ill participating in a community-based rehabilitation program.
Method. Participants in the study were 103 long-term patients with mental disorders provided with a community-based rehabilitation program. They were not hospitalized at the time when the research was conducted. The following instruments were used: the Questionnaire and Map of Social Support by Bizoń; The Social Maintenance Inventory by the same author, and an individual semi-structured interview designed for the purposes of this study.
Results. Individual social support networks are rather limited, consisting of 10 people on the average. The most numerous category of persons regarded by the patients as a part of their individual support systems were "therapists ". On the average over 4 members of individual networks originated directly from the therapeutic facilities attended by our respondents.
Conclusions. Participation in a local program of support and rehabilitation has a both quantitative and qualitative positive effect on individual social support systems of the mentally ill. Contacts with therapists and other participants of the program significantly influence the size of individual systems. Accessibility of many support functions reported by the respondents allows to regard local rehabilitation programs as an effective mechanism aiding the patients in functioning and providing them with assistance in coping with difficult situations.