2009 issue 1


Volume 18, issue 1

Original article

Social functioning of persons with long-term mental illness participating in community-based social support programs

Paweł Bronowski1, Maryla Sawicka1, Sylwia Kluczyńska1
1. Z Instytutu Psychologii Stosowanej Akademii Pedagogiki Specjalnej w Warszawie
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2009; 18 (1): 43-50
Keywords: social functioning, social support, psychoses


Objectives. Attempts to overcome difficulties encountered in social functioning by persons with mental illness include community-based interventions. The aim of the presented study was to estimate the level of social functioning of persons with mental disorders who participated in a comprehensive rehabilitation and social support system.
Methods. Participants in the study were 103 persons with long-term mental disorders, who attended a community-based rehabili-tation and social support program. The following tools were used in the research: the Social Functioning Scale (SFS, by M. Birchwood, in the Polish adaptation by M. Załuska), and a structured interview developed for the purposes of this study.
Results. A majority of the respondents are doing well in social situations, they can form interpersonal relationships and have relationships outside the home. However, in this group there are also individuals with very poor social functioning, who withdraw from interpersonal relationships. Most of the respondents' leisure time activities are organized by community care centers, and their own activity is limited. The research findings show that despite their young age and a sense of work capability our respondents struggle with joblessness.
Conclusions. Good functioning of our respondents in social situations can be accounted for by their participation in social support programs. Special attention should be paid to the subgroup manifesting severe problems in interpersonal relations. This group reąuires activation and support methods particularly well matched to their needs. Community-based support programs should lay more emphasis on supporting their participants' own activity and avoid doing everything for them as regards leisure time organi-zation. In the sample studied difficulties in overcoming joblessness are evident (despite the participants' young age, accomplished education, and their sense of work capability only 7% of the group decided to attend an Occupational Activation Unit). This suggests a need for more emphasis on launching occupational activation programs tailored to the specificity of persons with long-term mental illness, and on more effective motivating them to get a job.

Address for correspondence:
Dr Maryla Sawicka
Instytut Psychiatrii i Neurologii
ul. Sobieskiego 9, 02-957 Warszawa
tel. 0-22-4582521
e-mail: sawicka@ipin.edu.pl