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BACKGROUND: The social networks of people with mental illness have received much attention, but users of day care services have rarely been considered. METHODS: Users of day hospitals and day centres were surveyed cross-sectionally. Demographic and illness factors were tested for associations with network size, while intrinsic relationship factors were tested for association with confiding in a network member. RESULTS: There was some evidence that a longer duration of contact with services, more unmet needs, working, living in supported accommodation and needing help with psychotic symptoms were associated with having a larger network, while a longer duration of contact was associated with having more confidantes. Day centre users confided in people who were more likely to be friends or neighbours than professionals, and who were more likely to be the same sex. CONCLUSION: For people in day care, the stereotype that people with longer-term mental health problems are socially isolated is contradicted by this study. The limited role of professionals in providing confiding relationships is striking.

Original publication




Journal article


Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol

Publication Date





467 - 474


Adult, Day Care, Medical, Female, Friends, Health Services Needs and Demand, Health Surveys, Humans, Male, Mental Disorders, Middle Aged, Psychotic Disorders, Self Disclosure, Social Environment, Social Isolation, Social Support, Stereotyping