A Social Support System Is Imperative for Health and Well-Being (2023)

Social support is often identified as a key component of solid relationships and strong psychological health, but what exactly does it mean? Essentially, social support involves having a network of family and friends that you can turn to in times of need.

Whether you are facing a personal crisis and need immediate assistance, or you just want to spend time with people who care about you, these relationships play a critical role in how you function in your day-to-day life.

It is social support that builds people up during times of stress and often gives them the strength to carry on and even thrive.

But social support is certainly not a one-way street. In addition to relying on others, you also serve as a form of support for many people in your life.

Why Strong Social Support Is So Important

Psychologists and other mental health professionals often talk about the importance of having a strong social support network. When trying to reach our goals or deal with a crisis, experts frequently implore people to lean on their friends and family for support.

Research has also demonstrated the link between social relationships and many different aspects of health and wellness.Poor social support has been linked to depression and loneliness and has been shown to alter brain function and increase the risk of the following:

  • Alcohol use
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Depression
  • Suicide

In one study of middle-aged men over a seven-year period, those with strong social and emotional support were less likely to die than those who lacked such relationships.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact theNational Suicide Prevention Lifelineat 988for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see ourNational Helpline Database.

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Social Support vs. Integration

So, which aspects of our social environments are so vital to health? And how exactly do our social environments impact our overall well-being? There are two essential aspects of our social worlds that contribute to health: social support and social integration.

Social Support

Social support refers to the psychological and material resources provided by a social network to help individuals cope with stress. Such social support may come in different forms, and might involve:

  • Helping a person with various daily tasks when they are ill or offering financial assistance when they are in need
  • Giving advice to a friend when they are facing a difficult situation
  • Providing caring, empathy, and concern for loved ones in need

Social Integration

Social integration is the actual participation in various social relationships, ranging from romantic partnerships to friendships. This integration involves emotions, intimacy, anda sense of belonging to different social groups, including being part of a:

  • Family
  • Partnership
  • Religious community
  • Social activity

Experts suggest that being integrated into such social relationships confers a protective benefit against maladaptive behaviors and damaging health consequences.

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Types of Social Support

Supportive social networks can come in different forms and play different roles in your life.Three of the main types of social support are emotional support, instrumental support, and informational support.

Emotional Support

Sometimes the people in your life provide emotional support. They back you up when you need it and are there with a shoulder to cry on when things don't go your way. This type of support can be particularly important during times of stress or when people are feeling lonely.

Instrumental Support

In other cases, the people in your social network might provide instrumental support. They take care of your physical needs and offer a helping hand when you need it. This might involve bringing you a hot meal when you are sick or giving you a ride when your car is in the shop. Such support is important when people have immediate needs that must be addressed.

Informational Support

People can also provide what is known as informational support. This can involve providing guidance, advice, information, and mentoring. Such support can be important when making decisions or big changes in one's life.

By having this form of support, people may feel less anxious and stressed out about the problems they are trying to solve thanks to the advice of a trusted friend, mentor, or loved one.

As you might imagine, people in your social networks may take on different roles. A teacher might provide informational support, while a parent might provide all three types. By having a solid social support network, you are more likely to receive the type of support that you need when you really need it.

The Different Types of Social Support

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Examples of Social Support

Social support can occur in many forms and from many different people in your life. Co-workers may offer support in the workplace, while friends and family may provide emotional or practical support in other areas of your life.

A few examples of social support include:

  • Listening to a friend talk about a stressful situation
  • Validating another member of a support group when they talk about their feelings
  • Cooking meals for a neighbor who has been feeling ill
  • Praising an employee for doing a good job
  • Providing constructive feedback on someone's work to help them improve
  • Helping someone with housework when they are struggling with feelings of depression

Health Benefits of Social Support

So now that we understand that our social support systems involve both different types of social support as well as integration into different social groups, it is time to take a closer look at exactly how these social relationships influence both physical and mental health.

Healthy Choices and Behaviors

Participation in social groups has a normative influence on behaviors, often influencing whether people eat a healthy diet, exercise, smoke, drink, or use illegal substances.

Clearly, social groups can sometimes have a negative influence in this regard when peer pressure and influence leads to poor or even dangerous health choices. However, group pressure and support can also lead people to engage in healthy behaviors as well.

If you have ever tried to give up a bad habit, such as smoking, you probably realize just how important social support can be. If your social connections do not support you, it can make success much more difficult. If your friends and family offer support and encouragement, you may find achieving your goal much more possible.

Coping With Stress

Social support also helps people to cope with stress. Stress has been shown to have serious health consequences ranging from reduced immunity to increased risk of heart disease.

Being surrounded by people who are caring and supportive helps people to see themselves as better capable of dealing with the stresses that life brings.

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Research has also shown that having strong social support in times of crisis can help reduce the consequences of trauma-induced disorders including PTSD.

Social Support for Stress Relief

Improves Motivation

Social relationships can also help people to stay motivated when trying to achieve their goals. People who are trying to lose weight or quit smoking, for example, often find that it helps to connect with people who are actively trying to attain those same goals.

Talking to people who are going through the same experience can often be a source of support, empathy, and motivation.

A Word From Verywell

Every once in a while, it can be important to assess your relationships:

  • Do you have enough social support?
  • Would you benefit from deepening your current relationships?
  • Could you use some new social contacts or social outlets?

You might decide to get more proactive about giving and getting emotional support. It could greatly improve the quality of your life.

And if you're struggling to make friends or keep them, you might reach out to a therapist. A mental health provider may be able to assist you in managing your relationships in a healthy way so you can have the social support you need to be your best.

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How to Find a Support Group


How is social support related to our health and well-being? ›

Research also shows that having an active social support network can contribute to positive emotional and physical health and help you deal with stress. Social support can also help you maintain physical and mental health gains you've made, which can help you work toward a lasting healthy lifestyle.

Why is social support crucial for good health and well-being? ›

Social support, whether from a trusted group or valued individual, has been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological consequences of stress, and may enhance immune function.

What is the importance of support system in health? ›

Research has shown that having a strong support system has many positive benefits, such as higher levels of well-being, better coping skills, and a longer and healthier life. Studies have also shown that social support can reduce depression and anxiety. A strong support system can often help reduce stress.

How do you promote wellbeing in health and social care? ›

Promoting wellbeing involves actively seeking improvements in aspects of wellbeing set out above when carrying out a care and support function in relation to an individual at any stage of the process, from the provision of information and advice to reviewing a care and support plan.

What is so important about social support? ›

What is so important about social support? Research shows that social support provides important benefits to our physical and emotional health. Stress may be related to a number of health concerns, from mental health problems to chronic health problems like heart disease and migraines.

What is the purpose of support system? ›

The definition of a support system is that you have a network of people that can provide you with practical or emotional support. These support systems will help you improve your overall health and have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.

How do you maintain your health and wellbeing and what do you need to do differently if anything? ›

  1. Relax and reduce stress. Find ways to relax. ...
  2. Find ways to learn and be creative. Try doing something creative. ...
  3. Spend time in nature. Try to spend some time outdoors. ...
  4. Connect with others. ...
  5. Look after your physical health. ...
  6. Try to get enough sleep.

What is social health and wellbeing examples? ›

Good social health looks like:

Being engaged with others in your community. The ability to develop and maintain friendships. Creating boundaries in friendships and relationships. Having a supportive network of family and friends.

What are three positive benefits of social support? ›

Such social support may come in different forms, and might involve: Helping a person with various daily tasks when they are ill or offering financial assistance when they are in need. Giving advice to a friend when they are facing a difficult situation. Providing caring, empathy, and concern for loved ones in need.

Is social support always helpful? ›

Social support is one of the important functions of social relationships. Social support is always intended by the sender to be helpful, thus distinguishing it from intentional negative interactions (such as angry criticism, hassling, undermining). Social support is commonly categorized into four types of behaviors.

What does a good social support system provide? ›

Benefits of a Social Support System

Research has shown that there are tremendous benefits in having a network of supportive relationships: those with robust social support networks have better health, longer lives, and report higher well-being.

What makes a support system effective? ›

A healthy support system involves you being accountable to someone, fellowshipping with others who have similar problems, and gaining knowledge about your disorder and its symptoms so you can recognize triggers. In addition, a healthy support system includes appropriate psychological services.

How would you describe your support system? ›

A support system is a group of people who provide you with mental, emotional, and practical support when you need it most. They also help keep you going strong when you're doing well.

What is an example of support system? ›

Decision support system examples

Example uses include: GPS route planning. A DSS can be used to plan the fastest and best routes between two points by analyzing the available options. These systems often include the capability to monitor traffic in real-time to route around congestion.

How you can improve yourself in maintaining health conditions to achieve a healthy lifestyle and support your answer? ›

  • Measure and Watch Your Weight. ...
  • Limit Unhealthy Foods and Eat Healthy Meals. ...
  • Take Multivitamin Supplements. ...
  • Drink Water and Stay Hydrated, and Limit Sugared Beverages. ...
  • Exercise Regularly and Be Physically Active. ...
  • Reduce Sitting and Screen Time. ...
  • Get Enough Good Sleep. ...
  • Go Easy on Alcohol and Stay Sober.

What are you doing to support yourself to others feel better healthier or to improve your wellbeing? ›

Look after your physical health

Taking care of your physical health helps improve your mental health and well-being. Be active for at least 30 minutes daily, whether that's running, walking, yoga, dancing, cycling, or even gardening. Eat a balanced and healthy diet. Make sure to get enough sleep.

What is a health support system? ›

A healthy support system involves you being accountable to someone, fellowshipping with others who have similar problems, and gaining knowledge about your disorder and its symptoms so you can recognize triggers. In addition, a healthy support system includes appropriate psychological services.

What is the importance of Operation Support system? ›

OSS (operations support systems)

OSS helps telcos oversee technical and operations activities. It supports network management functions and infrastructure. It allows organisations to monitor, analyse and automate operations, from network performance to fault management.

What are the benefits of support services? ›

Lifestyle support services help increase social and community participation. Studies show that people are often happier when they are socially engaged. Spending more time with others or engaging in group activities helps people with disabilities gain a sense of belonging.

What are the 3 types of support health and social care? ›

Types of social care and support include: help at home from a paid carer. meals on wheels. having home adaptations.

What is social support system? ›

Social support system refers to a network of people – friends, family, and peers – that we can turn to for emotional and practical support. At school, fellow students, supportive staff, and faculty may provide assistance, and as we move into our professional careers, our colleagues may also be sources of support.

How does social support impact mental health? ›

Social support fosters self-esteem and inhibits feeling incompetent or helpless in coping with stress. There is a preponderance of evidence that suggests social support is linked with lower depression, lower anxiety, and lower hopelessness levels among depressed patients.

What is the purpose of system management in system support? ›

Systems management is the administration of the information technology (IT) systems in an enterprise network or data center. An effective systems management plan facilitates the delivery of IT as a service and allows an organization's employees to respond quickly to changing business requirements and system activity.

What are examples of operations support systems? ›

OSS systems used in the Bell System include AMATPS, CSOBS, EADAS, Remote Memory Administration System (RMAS), Switching Control Center System (SCCS), Service Evaluation System (SES), Trunks Integrated Record Keeping System (TIRKS), and many more.

What is importance of support in system implementation? ›

Support enables the evolution of the platform to better meet the needs of the organization from spotting new enhancements to finding bugs that could hamper the workday.

What are some benefits of strong social support? ›

Social support can help us cope with setbacks, solve problems, improve self-esteem and even manage health problems and stress. People who feel like they have the social support they need tend to have lower stress levels.

What are the three basic types of social support you can benefit from? ›

4 Types of Social Support
  • Material Support. Sometimes called instrumental support, material support includes any tangible, material aid or service to another person or group. ...
  • Emotional Support. Emotional support comes from expressions of empathy, trust, caring, hope and love. ...
  • Informational Support. ...
  • Appraisal Support.


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