Change that leads to better lives

What works to improve the social networks and prevent social isolation for people with mental health

This paper provides a review of research into what works to improve the social networks and prevent social isolation for people with mental health problems. The document is intended for practitioners who work with people with mental health problems to help inform their work.

It includes:

  • An overview of the quantity and quality of the research in this area
  • A summary of the studies reviewed
  • Some key findings
  • A summary of areas identified for future research
  • A table detailing the research studies reviewed and their relevant findings

to read the review document in full click here

Key Findings:

  • The evidence around effectiveness of interventions to prevent loneliness and social isolation is patchy and findings are inconsistent.
  • The evidence shows that staff can play a key role in facilitating social networks.
  • It appears that befriending may be beneficial to peoples’ mental health, but there is inconclusive evidence on the impact of peer support.
  • Various activity or occupation-based interventions - such as horticulture, sport and learning - have been found to increase social networks and reduce social isolation.

This document is part of a series of 'introduction to research’ papers produced for Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I).

Other documents within the series include:

C&I’s academics have a strong track record in research around social interventions for people with mental ill health. The papers do not claim to be a comprehensive account of all evidence available in this area. Instead they are provided for those who are keen to know what research already exists, where to find it and what areas might usefully be further explored.

Our thanks to Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust for agreeing to share the work.

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