Dr Tegan Cruwys to present on social group membership and mental health

Dr Tegan Cruwys, Lecturer and Clinical Psychologist from University of Queensland will present at the 16th International Mental Health Conference at QT Hotel, Gold Coast 12-14 August 2015.

Dr Tegan Cruwys Dr Tegan Cruwys

Tegan joined UQ in 2012 following completion of her PhD at ANU. Her research investigates how social relationships shape mental and physical health; work that is at the intersection of social, clinical and health psychology. She is a registered clinical psychologist and teaches into the postgraduate professional psychology programs.

Abstract Title: Social identification and depression recovery: The curative benefits of group membership

Social isolation is a well-established risk factor for depression. However, treatments for depression rarely address social factors. Here, we present evidence from three longitudinal studies that social identification predicts depression recovery. In Study 1 (N=52), disadvantaged participants who were at risk of depression joined a social group in a community setting. In Study 2 (N=92) adults with diagnosed depression joined a psychotherapy group in a clinical setting. Results indicated that in both studies, social identification with the group predicted recovery from depression after controlling for initial depression severity, frequency of attendance, and group type. In Study 3 (N=4087) people aged 50 years and older were followed up over 4 years.

We found that the number of groups that a person belongs to is a strong predictor of subsequent depression (such that fewer groups predicts more depression), and that the unfolding benefits of social group memberships are stronger among individuals who are depressed than among those who are non-depressed. Depressed respondents with no group memberships who joined one group reduced their risk of depression relapse by 24%; if they joined three groups their risk of relapse reduced by 63%. We argue that the facilitating social group memberships may be more cost-effective and less stigmatising than prevailing treatments for depression.

For more information on the 16th International Mental Health Conference please visit the website here.

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