Type of Work

Research Paper - Limited Access

Publication Date



Social factors can affect almost every aspect of mental health and well-being. They have been shown to determine the incidence, prevalence, and persistence of mental illness (Cokrin, 1997). A literature review study pointed to social factors, including feelings of empowerment over one’s life, connectedness with personal and family, rebuilding positive identities of oneself, having hope about the future, and finding meaning in life, as crucial components for recovery of severe mental illness (Tew, Shula, Ramon, et al., 2012). These themes are closely related to social support. Social support is a social construct related to interactions that help individuals with coping, esteem, feelings of belonging, and competence, provided through physical or psychosocial support (or assistance) (Gottlieb, 2000). Physical social support can be when a friend offers to give a ride or buy lunch. Psychosocial support is more related to emotional support, such as listening to a close friend about a family member’s death. Social support has important implications for mental health, demonstrated by its protective effects against stress and mental illness (Ozbay, Johnson, Dimoulas, et al., 2007). Studies found that social support was particularly stress buffering for individuals with the most exposure to poverty-related stressors (e.g., loans, neighborhood crime, drug trafficking) (Ewart & Suchday, 2002; Moskowitz, Vittinghoff, Schmidt, 2012). This study’s objective was to further investigate the role of social support in mental health in specific low-income communities in Sao Paulo, Brazil called favelas, by investigating the effect of poverty-related challenges in mental health and social support.

Hamilton Areas of Study


Hamilton Sponsoring Organization

Levitt Public Affairs Center

Hamilton Scholarship Series

Levitt Summer Research Fellowship

Hamilton Faculty Advisor

David Walden