How Does Social Support Improve Health?

Team Health Cages

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How Does Social Support Improve Health?

Social support can significantly improve health by providing emotional comfort, reducing stress, and enhancing overall well-being. Strong social networks contribute to lower blood pressure, better immune system function, and faster recovery from illness. The influence of social connections extends to promoting healthier behaviors, such as regular exercise and a balanced diet. Additionally, social support combats loneliness, which is linked to adverse health outcomes, and contributes to increased self-esteem and confidence. The positive impact of social support on mental and physical health highlights its role in fostering longevity and a better quality of life.

What is the role of social support in mental health recovery?

Emotional Support in times of trouble, close friends and family offer emotional comfort, providing a listening ear and instilling hope. This type of support significantly influences an individual’s coping mechanisms and overall management of challenges.

Instrumental Support Tangible aid and services characterize instrumental support. Examples include family members providing childcare to enable an individual to attend work or medical appointments.

Informational Support This involves the intentional delivery of advice, suggestions, or information for the recipient’s benefit. Friends may share personal experiences to inform decision-making, while healthcare professionals provide information about treatment options.

Appraisal Similar to informational support but more specific, appraisal includes information useful for self-evaluation. For instance, a friend may highlight an individual’s successes in the face of failure or positive qualities following a breakup.

Professional Support Mental health professionals contribute to social support through therapeutic care. Tailored interventions address specific problems like anxiety, depression, or symptoms of PTSD. Therapists teach patients or their support partners skills such as progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing to manage distress effectively.

What are the social impacts on mental health?

Relationships profoundly influence our mental health and well-being. Strong social bonds contribute to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, enhance self-worth, offer comfort and joy, prevent loneliness, and may even extend our lifespan. Conversely, a lack of meaningful social connections poses a significant risk to our emotional and mental health.

Nowadays, many people use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram to connect and establish relationships. While these platforms offer benefits, it is crucial to recognize that social media cannot substitute for genuine face-to-face human interaction. Contact with others triggers the release of hormones that reduce stress and promote feelings of happiness, health, and positivity. As a consequence, excessive use of social media, which is supposed to bring people together, can increase feelings of loneliness and isolation, worsening mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

How does social health help?

Social factors such as race, gender, and social class unfortunately contribute to social exclusion, leading to enduring and far-reaching consequences for certain individuals and societal groups. This often initiates a negative trajectory, manifesting in issues like poor health, unemployment, indebtedness, and family breakdowns.

According to a report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, individuals aged 16 to 74 with common mental health conditions are more likely to exhibit the following characteristics compared to those without mental health conditions:

  • Female (59%)
  • Aged between 35 and 54 (45%, as opposed to 38%)
  • Divorced (14% compared to 7%)
  • Living alone (20% compared to 16%)
  • Belonging to a one-parent family (9% compared to 4%)
  • Lacking formal qualifications (31% compared to 27%)
  • Being a tenant of a housing association or local authority (26% compared to 15%)
What are the 4 types of social support?
  • Emotional Support
  • Instrumental Support
  • Informational Support
  • Appraisal Support

Emotional Support

  • Listening without judgment
  • Acknowledging and validating someone’s emotions
  • Providing words of comfort and reassurance
  • Being physically present with someone
  • Offering physical contact, such as hugs

Instrumental Support

  • Concrete aid
  • Practical help
  • Provision of resources
  • financial aid
  • Child care services
  • Transportation assistance

Informational Support

  • Facts and Information
  • Guidance on Problem-Solving
  • Teaching About a Topic
  • Directing to Helpful Resources
  • Step-by-Step Instructions
  • Advice in Various Areas

Appraisal Support

  • Positive Feedback
  • Reinforcing Strengths
  • Encouragement
  • Constructive Feedback
  • Recognition of Achievements
  • Enhancing Self-Esteem
What are the benefits of social support?

Psychologists and mental health professionals emphasize the significance of cultivating a robust social support network. Whether individuals are working towards their goals or facing a crisis, experts often encourage them to rely on friends and family for assistance.

According to the American Psychological Association’s recommendations for stress management, numerous studies have shown a connection between social relationships and health and well-being. insufficient social support has been associated with depression and loneliness, impairing brain function and raising the risk of drinking, cardiovascular disease, depression, and suicide.

Some of the best benefits include higher levels of well-being, better-coping skills, and a longer, healthier life. 

Social health can be defined as our ability to interact and form meaningful relationships with others.

  • Taking time for your family.
  • Visiting your neighbors.
  • Joining a club or hobby group.