The power of social support in maintaining mental health
11 Jan 2023
One of the main benefits of social support is that it provides a sense of belonging and connection to others. When we feel connected to others, we are more likely to feel accepted and valued, which can boost self-esteem and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Social support can also provide a sense of purpose and meaning in life, as well as a sense of community and shared experiences.
Social support can also be a source of emotional support, which can be especially important during times of stress or hardship. When we feel supported by others, we are more likely to feel less overwhelmed and better able to cope with difficult situations. Research has shown that people with strong social support networks are more resilient and have better mental health outcomes compared to those who lack social support (Cohen & Wills, 1985).
In addition to emotional support, social support can also provide practical support, such as help with daily tasks or access to resources and information. This type of support can be particularly valuable for those who are struggling with mental health issues, as it can help alleviate some of the burdens and stressors that can contribute to poor mental health.
There are also several specific ways in which social support can help improve and maintain mental health. For example, research has shown that social support can help reduce the risk of developing mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010). Social support can also help reduce the severity and duration of mental health problems, as well as improve treatment outcomes (Thoits, 2011).
Social support can also be a protective factor against the negative effects of stress. Chronic stress can have serious negative impacts on mental health, but research has shown that social support can help buffer these effects (Cohen & Wills, 1985). Support can reduce the impact of stressors by providing emotional support or practical assistance, and can also help individuals develop coping strategies to better manage stress.
There are several ways in which individuals can seek and build social support networks. Some options include joining a support group, participating in community activities, volunteering, or simply reaching out to friends and family. It is important to remember that social support looks different for everyone, and it is okay to have different types and levels of support at different times.
In conclusion, social support is an important factor in maintaining good mental health. It provides a sense of connection and belonging, emotional support, and practical assistance, and can help reduce the risk and severity of mental health problems and the negative effects of stress. Building and maintaining strong social support networks is an important part of taking care of our mental well-being.
Cohen, S., & Wills, T. A. (1985). Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 98(2), 310-357.
Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, J. B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS Medicine, 7(7), e1000316.
Thoits, P. A. (2011). Mechanisms linking social ties and support to physical and mental health. Journal of health and social behavior, 52(2), 145-161.