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OP59 Together through tough times: A qualitative study into factors supporting community resilience to poor mental health in disadvantaged communities in the UK
  1. Kris Southby1,
  2. Tim Bidey2,
  3. Duncan Grimes2,
  4. Zoe Khor2,
  5. Jane South1,
  6. Anne-Marie Bagnall1
  1. 1Centre for Health Promotion Research, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK
  2. 2Traverse, London, UK


Background Living in an area experiencing economic and social deprivation is a known risk factor to poor mental health and wellbeing. There is considerable need to prevent poor mental health outcomes through action on the social determinants of health. This paper is concerned with how some communities experiencing disadvantage appear to be more resilient to poor mental health and wellbeing (community resilience).

Methods A qualitative case study approach was used to carry out an in-depth exploration of what factors support community resilience in four communities experiencing disadvantage in the United Kingdom.

74 semi-structured interviews were undertaken remotely with 39 residents and 35 VCSE groups, community leaders and other local stakeholders. Interviews explored resilience narratives, assets and protective factors, and local challenges. Community analysis workshops and resilience mapping workshops in each site further explored insights from interviews. Data analysis was undertaken using cross-case, thematic analysis.

Results Communities experiencing disadvantage encounter a range of daily and enduring challenges to good mental health and wellbeing. Four overlapping and interacting themes support community resilience: (i) Community hubs and local VCSE networks enable a community to support one another and respond effectively to challenges; (ii) Opportunities to participate and make connections within communities strengthens social connections, builds local capacity and empowers people; (iii) Open and supportive environments to talk about mental health and wellbeing help reduce stigma and gives people the tools to help one another; and (iv) Community identities and collective narratives that establish a shared sense of belonging help people to feel secure and connected.

Conclusion Community resilience can be understood in terms of the amount of resources – articulated in terms of capital (e.g. financial, social, cultural, human, natural, physical/built) – that communities can draw on in response to challenges and how well they are mobilised. VCSE organisations and networks play a significant role both building and mobilising different capitals in communities experiencing disadvantage. However, communities experiencing disadvantage face enduring challenges (e.g. poor housing, insecure employment, Covid-19). While VCSE organisations can directly support communities at a local level, their ability to affect structural change is limited to campaigning and advocacy. Responsibility for addressing these issues lie with local and national government. A thriving VCSE sector is important for community resilience in communities experiencing disadvantage as a mechanism for both sustainably building and mobilising community resources in the face of daily and enduring challenges.

  • Community
  • mental health
  • social capital

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