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How A Social Support System Contributes to Better Psychological Health

How A Social Support System Contributes to Better Psychological Health

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How A Support System Contributes to Better Psychological Health

As humans, our support system has a major influence on our lives. Our support systems can impact every aspect of our lives and can even influence how successful we are. Whether your social support network is your family, your significant other, your children, a close group of friends, or even all of the above, they have a significant influence on your life. A solid support system can mean prolonged success and happy and healthy life. A bad support system can send you spiraling down a bad path.

One of the biggest things that a support system can affect is your overall mental health and well-being. Not only is a good support system good for your mental health, but those people who you keep around you can either help you stay grounded and level-headed even in the most extreme cases. However, unfortunately, they can also contribute to your overall mental health deterioration.

At Montare Behavioral Health, our team of experienced mental health professionals provides our patients with high-quality care and support. At our facility, know that you are not alone!

What is A Social Support Network?

A social support network is a person or a group of people who you turn to for emotional support. This network might consist of a significant other, family members, a close group of friends, or some combination of the above. At the end of the day, if there is someone or multiple people that you turn to for guidance, support, or even just to share things going on in your life, those people are your social support network.

Everyone’s support system is different and looks different. However, most support systems involve the following:

  • Giving advice and guidance when needed
  • Providing a helping hand or lending an ear
  • Providing empathy, care, and concern
  • Offering financial support and assistance
  • Being there when needed to help with daily things that may come up

While a major component of a social support system is those that you surround yourself, it is not a one-way street. As part of this “arrangement”, there are certain expectations on your side of things as well. You have to be an active participant in the relationships of the people you turn to as well. This is called social integration.

Social integration involves emotions, intimacy, and a sense of belonging to different social groups. These social groups can include:

  • Family members
  • A religious community
  • Marriage or a partnership
  • Friends
  • Work colleagues

What Are the Different Types of Social Support?

Support systems can come in many different shapes and sizes. You can also have multiple support systems that can play different roles in your lives at different times. No matter what the social support network you have, they will likely fall into one of three different types of support systems.

Emotional Support

When it comes to having a support system, chances are the number one thing you are looking for from those people is emotional support. Maybe you had a really bad day at work and need someone to vent to. Maybe you had a death in the family and need a shoulder to cry on.

On the contrary, something really good might have happened to you and you want to have someone to share the happiness and success with. Regardless of what you need them for, your emotional support group is there for you no matter what is happening and will support you with whatever you need.

From a mental health standpoint, an emotional support system is incredibly beneficial. Bottling up your emotions and feelings can be detrimental to your overall mental health. Having someone or even a group of people to share your emotions with can be very therapeutic.

Instrumental Support

While you might turn to some people for emotional support, there might be some people that you turn to for assistance with physical things. These people are your instrumental support group. Those in your emotional support group might bring you some soup when you are sick or give you a ride to the airport. They might even loan you their truck if you need to move big items or even jump in and help you with the said move.

Having an instrumental support system is good for your overall mental health because it gives you a sense of belonging. When you have people who want to help you out and that you know you can count on no matter what, it makes you feel better about yourself.

Informational Support

While people can be there both emotionally and physically, they can also be there in an informational way. These people might provide guidance, information, advice, or even serve as a mentor. Your informational support system is crucial when it comes to making big decisions or life changes.

Depending on your social support system, some people within the group might serve different roles. They might fit into one of the above categories, multiple categories, or even all three. The most important thing to remember is that is good to have at least one person in each of the three categories. Having a well rounded social support network can go a long way in helping you live a healthy and happy life.

Why Is It Important to Have a Strong Support System?

While we discussed some of the positive things that a strong support system can do above, the benefits of having a strong support system go way beyond just that. Having s strong support system can have both mental and physical health benefits. Psychologists and other mental health professionals often stress the importance of having a strong support system.

On the contrary, a poor social support system can harm your overall health and well-being. 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:

  • Suicide
  • Problematic medication use
  • Cardiovascular disease and other physical ailments

What Are Some of the Advantages of Having a Strong Support System?

While some people might view relying on a support system as a sign of weakness, it is the complete opposite. There are many advantages to having a strong social support network. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest advantages.

Feeling Like You Belong

Everyone wants to feel like they belong to something. It’s why we root for certain sports teams or join certain clubs or groups. Feeling a sense of belonging makes us feel good about ourselves which in turn improves our overall quality of life. Having a strong support system in place is a great way to get that sense of belonging.

Stress Reduction

The less stress and anxiety in our lives the healthier we are. While it is impossible to never experience any stress, how you handle said stress can go a long way when it comes to your mental health.

Having an outlet for stress such as venting to someone can not only make you feel better but it can help you move on from the stressful situation in a quicker manner. Having a solid support system can be a great way to vent and decompress after dealing with a stressful situation.

Emotional Support

Having a strong emotional support system can lead to not just better mental health but overall physical health as well.  A strong support system is pertinent to good emotional health as it gives us a community of support during trying times.

How Else Can a Positive Support System Be Beneficial?

We have touched on it already, but it is important to hammer home just how beneficial a strong support system can be for our overall health and well-being. Our support system can play a major role in how we go about living our lives, from the choices we make to our overall health.

It Can Influence Our Choices and Behaviors

Your social support network can play a big role in the choices you make and how you behave. They can influence your diet, exercise, whether you engage in problematic behaviors. Associating yourself with the right people will usually lead to a healthy lifestyle.

On the contrary though, if you associate yourself with the wrong people, you could find yourself on a path that you don’t want to be on. Think about a time when you tried to give up a bad habit. Chances are your support system was a major influence when it came to successfully break the habit.

It Can Help You Better Manage Stress

Stress has been shown to have serious health consequences ranging from reduced immunity to increased risk of heart disease. Having people around you that you can talk to about your stress, or even help you forget about your stress can be beneficial to your overall health. Also, having a strong support system can help reduce the consequences of trauma-based disorders such as PTSD.

It Can Help Your Motivation Levels

When someone has a person or people in their life that has a vested interest in them it can improve their overall motivation. When they have people in their life that care about them and their success, they are not only working hard for themselves but those other people as well. Having people that you can turn to for support and motivation can go a long way when it comes to achieving your goals.

Do You Have A Strong Social Support Network?

Without being mentally healthy, it is very hard to be physically healthy. Having a strong support system can go a long way when it comes to being mentally and physically healthy. If you are suffering from a mental health condition, Montare BH is here to support you every step of the way! Contact us today to learn how we can get you the treatment that you need.