Social networks, mental health problems, and mental health service utilization in OEF/OIF National Guard veterans

Rebecca K. Sripada, Amy S.B. Bohnert, Alan R. Teo, Debra S. Levine, Paul N. Pfeiffer, Nicholas W. Bowersox, Mark S. Mizruchi, Stephen T. Chermack, Dara Ganoczy, Heather Walters, Marcia Valenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose: Low social support and small social network size have been associated with a variety of negative mental health outcomes, while their impact on mental health services use is less clear. To date, few studies have examined these associations in National Guard service members, where frequency of mental health problems is high, social support may come from military as well as other sources, and services use may be suboptimal. Methods: Surveys were administered to 1448 recently returned National Guard members. Multivariable regression models assessed the associations between social support characteristics, probable mental health conditions, and service utilization. Results: In bivariate analyses, large social network size, high social network diversity, high perceived social support, and high military unit support were each associated with lower likelihood of having a probable mental health condition (p < .001). In adjusted analyses, high perceived social support (OR.90, CI.88–.92) and high unit support (OR.96, CI.94–.97) continued to be significantly associated with lower likelihood of mental health conditions. Two social support measures were associated with lower likelihood of receiving mental health services in bivariate analyses, but were not significant in adjusted models. Conclusions: General social support and military-specific support were robustly associated with reduced mental health symptoms in National Guard members. Policy makers, military leaders, and clinicians should attend to service members’ level of support from both the community and their units and continue efforts to bolster these supports. Other strategies, such as focused outreach, may be needed to bring National Guard members with need into mental health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1367-1378
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 30 2015


  • Depression
  • National Guard
  • PTSD
  • Social network
  • Social support
  • Veteran

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Social networks, mental health problems, and mental health service utilization in OEF/OIF National Guard veterans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this