Is It There When You Need It?

Published In: Journal of Family Issues, v. 30, no. 8, Aug. 2009, p. 1070-1097

Posted on on January 01, 2009

by Sarah O. Meadows

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Little is known about the effect of incongruity between perception of, or belief in, the availability of support and actual receipt of support during a time of need. This article examines associations between belief in the future availability of instrumental support (e.g., child care, temporary housing, and financial assistance), subsequent reception of inadequate support, and depression in a socioeconomically diverse sample of new mothers. Receipt of support is associated with increased odds of experiencing a major depressive episode (MDE), whereas belief in the availability of future support appears to be protective of mental health. Mothers who experience a negative mismatch between support perception and adequate receipt of support have increased odds of experiencing an MDE compared with mothers who either receive adequate support or who have no support needs; however, their susceptibility is no greater than that of mothers who simply have unmet instrumental needs.

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