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Social Health

Socialising can help you to:

  • Have a healthy work/life balance.

  • Alleviate stress.

  • Have fun and learn to relax.

  • Combat loneliness, isolation or marginalisation.

  • Improve present social skills.

  • Increase your circle of friends.

  • Find people that hold similar interests or are going through similar experiences.

  • Increase self esteem, confidence and a sense of identity.

  • Become more self aware.

  • Discover new hobbies and interests.

  • Increase life satisfaction and meaning.

  • Combat boredom.

  • Divert attention away from problems, worries or illnesses.

  • Keep physically fit through light social sports and activities.

  • Have an alternative social life to the pub.

  • Get out of the house and stay active.

  • Improve the quality of your life through engaging in meaningful activity.

  • So what is Social Health?

    Alongside physical and mental well-being, The World Health Organisation has social well-being as an integral pillar to the health of the individual and society as a whole.
    In 1948 the first Director General of The World Health Organisation, Brock Chrisholm (1948-1953) coined the term, he wrote:

    ‘We have a responsibility for social health, for being able to live in peace and contributing to the welfare of other people. The social responsibility of the individual has never been recognized before on such a wide international basis”
    Chrisholm (1948 364).

    More specifically, Russell sees individual social health as:

    ...that dimension of an individual’s well-being that concerns how he gets along with other people, how other people react to him, and how he reacts with social institutions and societal mores.
    (Russell 1973 75).

    In his book Human Instinct Professor Robert Winston uses the words of Denis Diderot, the enlightenment philosopher, to explain what can happen when social health problems occur:

    Man is born for society, separate him, isolate him and his ideas will become disjointed, his character will change, a thousand ridiculous emotions will rise in his heart, extravagant thoughts will rise in his spirit like brambles in wasteland.

    Winston goes on to say:

    Most of us would agree that a life without friends, family or lovers is unimaginable. Social contact is at the core of our daily lives.
    (Winston 2002 248).    

    Neglecting Social Health

    So taking into account how important social health is, why is the subject still so widely neglected?
    Much of the time, health professionals perceive social health as part and parcel of mental health problems and try to treat them and their patients accordingly.
    In such a rapidly changing western culture we must re-evaluate what we class as mental health and social health, the difference between the two and the problems that occur when we become socially or mentally ill.
    This will at least give us a stronger sense of what a person may be going through, which at least gives health professionals a better chance of helping that person to recover.
    It is also important to look at new ways of treating patients and how social health problems can be overcome using new methods of treatment and intervention, for example, using a support network such as The Social Hub as a preventative service to lighten the load on NHS resources.

    Most of us neglect our social health at some point in our lives, we tend to look at having a social life as a luxury whereas it is actually an important part of living a healthy balanced lifestyle.

    If you feel you have been neglecting your social health lately then why not get in touch and get yourself back on track.  

    Social Hub Lead, Charlotte Brady's phd research into the role of the Social Hub to relieve mental distress. Read More

    The following blog was prepared by Charlotte Brady in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed therein do not reflect the views of the Social Hub, nor Starfish Services. Click here.