Caregiver mental health, neighborhood, and social network influences on mental health needs among African American Children

Michael A. Lindsey, Dorothy C. Browne, Richard Thompson, Kristin M. Hawley, J. Christopher Graham, Cindy Weisbart, Donna Harrington, Jonathan B. Kotch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, the authors examined the combined effects of caregiver mental health, alcohol use, and social network support/satisfaction on child mental health needs among African American caregiver-child dyads at risk of maltreatment. The sample included 514 eight-year-old African American children and their caregivers who participated in the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect. A structural equation model was created with caregiver mental health/alcohol use and caregiver social network support/satisfaction as the exogenous variables and child mental health need as the endogenous variable. Caregivers with less-supportive networks and whose capacity to parent was challenged by alcohol, depression, or other mental health problems had children with elevated mental health needs. These findings confirm the need to examine the effects of caregiver influences (for example, caregiver mental health and social network support/satisfaction) on mental health among African American children at risk of maltreatment and to further explain how the social networks of caregivers are accessed when caregivers and children have mental health problems. Implications for identifying mental health needs among this vulnerable group and improving their connections to formal mental health services through social network-level interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Work Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • African American children
  • Child maltreatment
  • Child neglect
  • Mental health
  • Social network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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