Background: Lack of a sense of belonging has been shown to be associated with loneliness, emotional distress, psychosocial disturbance, and mental illness. Conversely, sense of belonging was found to correspond with psychosocial health.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the buffering effect of sense of belonging against the development of depression.
Study Design: This study used a comparative design. The sample consisted of 443 Navy recruits in basic training who were divided into depressed and control groups based on depressive symptoms. The groups were then further stratified based on risk factors: a personal history of abuse and family histories of mental illness, alcohol, and drug abuse.
Results: The results refuted a significant buffering effect of sense of belonging against the development of depressive symptoms in several of the subgroups. However, sense of belonging significantly buffered those with a family history of alcohol abuse against developing depressive symptoms. C
onclusion: Sense of belonging is a concept that has important implications for psychosocial well being. Interventions that enhance sense of belonging will be useful in the treatment and primary prevention of depression.
Sargent, J., Williams, R. A., Hagerty, B., Lynch-Sauer, J., &Hoyle, K. (2002). Sense of belonging as a buffer against depressive symptoms. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 8(4), 120-129.