The Role of Social Support on Depression and Adjustment Levels of Adolescents Having Broken and Unbroken Families

Article excerpt

Abstract

In this research, depression and adjustment levels of adolescents between ages 15- 18 in secondary education and having both broken and unbroken families were analyzed in respect of social support and family constitution. The role of family constitution and social support on depression and adjustment level were investigated. Instruments were conducted on 203 adolescents selected from secondary schools in Kocaeli Provincial Centre, 101 of which are from unbroken families and 102 of which are from broken families. Of the students, 104 were male (%51.2) and 99 were female (%48.8). A mean age of the oarticipants was 16.46 years. In the study, "The Hacettepe Personality Inventory" was used to collect the data about adolescents' adjustment levels and "The Beck Depression Inventory" was used to collect the data about their depression levels. The Perceived Social Support Scale was used to collect the data on students' perception of social support and personal information form was used to determine family constitutions. It was found that the perception of social support and family constitution considered to be influential on depression and the adjustment levels of adolescents from broken and unbroken families composed a significant diversity between groups. As to this finding, it was observed that the adolescents from unbroken families are more adaptable in respect of their personal and social adjustment levels than the students from broken families. It was also determined that perceived social suppport has a significant effect on depression and adjustment levels. It was stated that as social support increases, the adjustment level increases likewise and depression levels decreases; the adjustment level has a linear correlation with social support contrarily an inverse correlation with depression.

Key Words

Family, Broken Family, Adolescent, Social Support, Adjustment, Depression.

We can define families as carrying a universal characteristic and being basic foundation of human socities, as a unity combined within common goals, reciprocal rights and duties (Worsley, 1980). Family, the influence of which on development of individuals is accepted as an undisputable and significant reality (Quoted by Özbay, 2004 from Adler, 1985; Ericson, 1964), comes out with its routine definition, that is, the married parents living together. With each passing day, we observe more frequently the cases in which there is absence of one parent due to reasons such as death, divorce, separation, or abandonment. (Gander & Gardiner, 1998). Consequently, today's unbroken families do not correspond with traditional pattern relating to togetherness of mother, father and children (Arcus, 1992; DiE, 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002).

It is known that the dissolution of family unity brings along many changes with it in various areas for adult couples. Accordingly, significant psychological, social, and economical changes can occur in the lives of the children living in separated and divorced families (Leung & Robson, 1990). It is pointed in variaous research that the dissolution of family unity because of the reasons like divorce, separation, or death bears the risk of behavioral and emotional problems for children (Harland, Reijneveld, Brugman, Verloove, & Verhulst, 2002).

Children can react in various ways to separation, divorce of their parents, and dissolution of their family constitution according to their development phases (Leung & Robson, 1990; Palmer 2002; Smart, 1980). Adolescents need the support of their parents and an atmosphere of trust. They can experience the decrease of parental support with the dissolution of family unity. They can experience emotions such as desperation and mistrust as a result of the decrease in the reliable characteristic of family atmosphere. Consequently, they can come across cases like stress and depression (Amato, 1993; Eksi, 1990; Rosen, 1999; Weyburne, 2000). …