The Best Gift is You
Social support, which is the perception or experience that one is cared for, esteemed, and part of a mutually supportive social network, has beneficial effects on mental and physical health. We review the psychobiological pathways where these effects occur and detail the circumstances under which socially supportive efforts may misfire. Origins of social support include genetic factors and the early environment. We examine gender and cultural differences in how social support is experienced. Under some circumstances, providing social support confers the same benefits as receiving it. A countless number of social support interventions, including those delivered via the internet, have been evaluated and have the potential to provide emotional and informational support to people who might otherwise lack social support.
His article reports four longitudinal field studies and one experimental study designed to shed light on the functional roles of social support within the stress and coping context.
First, the enabling hypothesis is examined that assumes a facilitating effect of support on self‐efficacy, which, in turn, promotes coping with the aftermath of cardiac surgery.
This reviews the recent literature on social support and health and its relation to preexisting research and theory in social networks and social integration. We identify crucial directions for future theoretical and empirical work, focusing on the need to understand better the structures and processes through which social relationships affect human health and well-being. Two elements of social relationship structure are distinguished: social integration, which refers to the existence or quantity of social relationships, and social network structure, referring to the structural properties that characterise a set of relationships.
Although stress generation may occur in many forms of psychopathology, there appears to be a unique link between major depression and the occurrence of interpersonal dependent stressors. Patterns of vulnerability–stress–depression relationships support an emphasis on the importance of interpersonal and interactional themes in many forms of depression, perhaps, especially for women. Stress generation perspectives highlight environmental contributors to and consequences of depression.
We discuss the support cultivation hypothesis that regards support as a mediator between self‐efficacy and various outcomes, such as depressive mood, as illustrated by a finding on the experience of macrosocial stress during the East German transition.
Third, support is highlighted as a coping resource by specifying provided partner support as a predictor of patients’ coping with cancer. It was found that the direct effect of provided support on managing needs to be mediated by received support to become effective. Fourth, the managing efforts of a target person are predictive of the support intentions of a potential provider. The better a victim appears to cope with various stigmas; the more likely a significant other is willing to help. Fifth, in a dyadic study on dealing with cancer, partners were found to provide high levels of support to patients, but received support was affected only at later times. Time‐lagged partner effects may characterise resource transfer in asymmetric social situations in which only one element of the dyad is under severe stress.
Following a brief overview of the stressful life events-illness model and its implications for intervention, this article highlights the role of social support as a resource for resisting stress-induced illness and disability. It identifies three different connotative meanings that have been assigned to the social support construct and describe their empirical operationalisations in several recent studies. Specifically, the social integration/participation formulation, the social network approach, and the
Social Community and Support Activities
Social intimacy measurement strategies are described and contrasted. Within the latter approach, one study that illuminated informal helping behaviours is discussed in greater detail—a review of possible mechanisms whereby social support accomplishes its health-protective impact is also offered. Two types of planned interventions involving mobilising or optimising social support are spotlighted. The article concludes with ideas about how professionals can safeguard citizens’ natural helping skills and achieve an appropriate balance between formal and informal service delivery systems in the health and human services fields.
We further identify three social processes through which these structures may have their effects: social support, which pertains to the emotionally or instrumentally sustaining quality of social relationships; relational demands and conflict, referring to the negative or conflictive aspects of social relationships; and social regulation or control, referring to the controlling or regulating quality of social relationships. We also consider the social (as well as psychological and biological) determinants of levels and consequences of relationship structures and processes. In conclusion, we discuss the relevance of research and theory on social relationships and health to current demographic trends and public policy concerns.
Stress generation, noting evidence of the bidirectional effects of stress and depression on each other, contributing to recurrence and chronicity of depression and continuing stressors. Studies have documented elevated levels of acute adverse life events and enduring stressful life circumstances, especially stressful interpersonal situations. Besides depression, predictors of stress generation include maladaptive cognitions and individual traits and experiences that lead to dysfunctional emotional and behavioural reactions and dysfunctional coping styles and resources.
Humans aren’t meant to be alone all the time, connecting as part of a meaningful community is essential for our mental well-being.