Implications of coping strategies and community cohesion for mental health in Colombia

Laura K. Taylor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the face of mass human rights violations and constant threats to security, there is growing recognition of the resilience of people and communities. This paper builds on such work by investigating the effects of individual coping strategies, perceived community cohesion, and their interaction on mental health symptoms in Colombia. The study was conducted five years after the mass demobilisation of the former paramilitaries and takes an exploratory quantitative approach to identify two distinct forms of coping approaches among participants living in the Caribbean coast of Colombia. A constructive coping approach included active engagement, planning behaviours, emotional support, acceptance and positive reframing of daily stressors. A destructive coping approach in this study entailed denial of problems, substance use and behavioural disengagement from day-to-day stress. In addition, the strength of perceived community cohesion, or how close-knit and effective the individuals feel about the community in which they live, was examined. Structural equation modelling revealed that a constructive coping approach was significantly related to lower depression, while a destructive coping approach predicted more symptoms of depression. Although there was not a significant direct effect of perceived community cohesion on mental health outcomes, it did enhance the effect of constructive coping strategies at the trend level. That is, individuals who used constructive coping strategies and perceived their communities to be more cohesive, reported fewer depression symptoms than those who lived in less cohesive settings. Implications for promoting constructive coping strategies, as well as fostering cohesion in the community, are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnlarging the Scope of Peace Psychology: African and World-Regional Contributions
EditorsMohamed Seedat, Shahnaaz Suffla, Daniel J. Christie
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-45287-6
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2016

Publication series

NameSpringer Peace Psychology Book Series
ISSN (Print)2197-5779


  • coping strategies
  • Colombia
  • mental health
  • community cohesion
  • conflict
  • depression


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