Often mis-understood but certainly linked to our Mental and Physical Health is our Social Health. All 3 of these health measures form what is called the “Triangle of Health” and all are key to our Wellbeing.
Personal Social Health involves our ability to adapt to different social circumstances and settings, act appropriately in a variety of settings and to form satisfying interpersonal relationships with others. This includes the relationships we have with our Spouses, Children, Co-workers, Friends and acquaintances and they all can determine our Social Health.
Whilst there are many determinants of Social Health in these relationships, if they are to be of a positive nature, they should include strong communication skills, empathy for others and a sense of accountability. In contrast, traits like being withdrawn, vindictive or selfish can have a negative impact on your Social Health and lead to social anxiety.
These traits, however, are not always “just within us” but can develop over time due to our circumstances and/or behaviours. For example, if one locks themselves away playing video games alone all day then they are likely to become withdrawn from society which as mentioned affects their personal Social Health through lack of communication.
Hopefully, that has given a brief explanation of what Social Health is, but what causes it and creates the feelings to determine it?
According to WHO (the World Health Organisation), there are many determinants of Social Health such as those below, but I would like to point out that whilst these points obviously have an impact, I personally see these as general and therefore not an exclusive list:
Social Gradient: This basically means that as a determinant, being less advantageous on the social gradient does not offer as many benefits and therefore is less healthy in terms of Social Health.
Stress: Overall, stress can be one of the most significant threats to a healthy relationship. Stress should be managed through proven techniques such as regular physical activity, deep breathing and positive self-talk.
Early Life: How many times have we heard the phrase “they didn’t have the best start in life” and it is difficult to argue that those unfortunates among us often find it more difficult to break free from problems in early life.
Social Exclusion: If individuals are excluded from certain situations, either from a young age or throughout life, then they are less likely to develop interpersonal skills.
Work Related: Whilst working is seen as a must by most of society to earn money and keep a roof over the family’s head etc. If the job is for example, not enjoyable or what the person expected to be doing then obviously this could have a negative impact.
Unemployment: Linked to the above, but in contrast people are often stressed because they cannot find work. In addition to this, if an area has a high unemployment rate there is likely to be a higher rate of social problems such as antisocial behaviour.
Social Support: Where there is a lack of support, say in a neighbourhood from local authorities or other people in the neighbourhood.
Addiction: Drug and Alcohol addiction determine our behaviour in other ways which in turn can lead to many other Health related problems whether they be Social, Mental or Physical. Our society today struggles with the knock-on effects of this throughout.
Food: Not just the type of food but the availability of it.
Transportation: Our ability to get around. For example, if we are stuck in one place then this may have a negative impact on us getting a job or the correct social support and therefore can determine where we are on the social gradient.
Others include Income, Education, Gender
The list of determinants they can be linked, and in many cases put in a chronological order with each determinant a result of another. For example, it is widely accepted that if a person had a poor start in life on the lower social gradient then there could be less opportunity for social support, which could lead to stress in later life which in turn could lead to lower employment opportunities and so on and so on. Whilst this is example is very basic and the social situation can be, and generally is more complex, you can see how they are linked.
In summary, a positive outlook on our personal Social Health directly affects our overall wellbeing and when considered in the vain of the Triangle of Health should be taken as seriously as Mental and Physical Health. On a personal level, the connection between them should not be underestimated and if we are to lead happy meaningful lives then finding a balance that suits us as individuals is key. One thing is for certain though, if we do not try and incorporate our personal wellness in everyday life, society in general won’t either and where society as a whole is considered, this is a whole other story….
Wishing you all the very best… Darren