Social Support

Social Support


Social support refers to the physical and emotional comfort given by family, friends, co-workers, and others. Emotional support is an important protective factor for dealing with life’s difficulties. Low levels of social support have been linked to increased risk of deaths from cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, and cancer.

Benefits of Social Support

  • Social support plays a vital role in maintaining good physical and mental health.
  • Research has shown that positive social support can enhance resilience to stress.
  • Can increase feelings of security.
  • Can increase sense of self-worth and sense of belonging.
  • It can help protect against developing trauma-related mental disorders, decrease the functional consequences of trauma-induced disorders (such as posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD), and reduce medical morbidity and mortality.

How to grow your social network?

Cast a Wide Net

It can be beneficial to have a variety of relationships for different kinds of support. One size does not fit all. For example, you may have a colleague to talk about the problems at work and a neighbor who can lend an ear when you have a difficulty with your child.

Be Proactive

Starting a social relationship requires effort. Reach out to lend a hand or just to say hello. If you’re there for others, they’ll be there for you.

Take Advantage of Techonology

When it is not possible to go out and talk with people, technology can be useful. Technology makes it easier than ever before to stay connected. Write an email, send a text message, or make a phone call.

Social Media

It is also a good idea to connect to people through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Follow Your Interest

If you like to sing, dance, hike, make jewelry, play ping pong, volunteer, go ahead and do it. You are more likely to connect with people when you do things you like.

Seek Out Peer Support

If you are dealing with stressful situations or some chronic conditions, you may not find support from your current network. Consider joining a support group to meet others who are dealing with the similar challenges.

Improve Your Social Skills

Try starting with a few simple questions if you are introvert, feel awkward in social situations, or don’t know what to say. Consider talking to a therapist with experience in social anxiety and social-skills training.

Ask for Help

If you lack social support and aren’t sure where to start, there are resources you can turn to. Places of worship, senior and community centers, local libraries, refugee and immigration groups, neighborhood health clinics, etc., might be able to help you.

Types of Social Support

Construct Definition Application
Emotional Expressions of empathy, love, trust, and caring Close friends and family members provide hope and a listening ear.
Instrumental Tangible aid and service Her husband decides to work from home 2 days per week to babysit the children while she attends her chemotherapy.
Informational Advice, suggestions, and information Doctors provide facts about breast cancer and guidance during the treatment process. Her mother offers advice about her own chemotherapy treatment 3 years prior.
Appraisal Information that is useful for self-evaluation A close friend of 15 years reminds her of all of the qualities that equip her to "beat" breast cancer (to encourage an accurate assessment of her current situation).