Why is Social Health Important for Our Overall Wellness?

Social health helps our physical and mental health too.

When it comes to health and wellness, one’s physical health and abilities are often at the forefront. In fact, it’s only recently that mental health is more often addressed in society, though mental health stigmas are still prevalent.

However, our overall health and wellness has several facts, with physical, social, and mental health each being a part. Intellectual, spiritual, vocational, and dimensional are also dimensions of our wellness. While both physical and mental health are hugely important, social health greatly impacts our health too.

What is social health?

Our social health and wellness is measured by the relationships and connections we have to others in the world around us. Most mammals (and other animals) are inherently social creatures, and social relationships help us survive and thrive in today’s society.

It’s not just about the quantity friends you have. I could have 500 friends on Facebook, but if I don’t have at least a few quality friendships, my support system--and therefore social health--won’t be very strong.

Social health includes:

  • Maintaining healthy relationships
  • Enjoying being with others
  • Developing friendships and intimate relationships
  • Caring about others & letting others care about you
  • Contributing to society and your community

All of these ideas are pretty straight forward...so what’s the big deal? Why is it so important to work on our social health?

Why Social Health is Important for Our Overall Health

When we don’t have a strong social system, many other aspects of our health are impacted. In fact, there are several serious health effects that loneliness and social isolation can cause or worsen, particularly as we age.

Effects of Loneliness on Our Mental & Physical Health

Loneliness is associated with higher rates of:

  1. Depression, anxiety, and suicide
  2. Heart disease, heart failure, and stroke
  3. Dementia
  4. Premature death

In fact, loneliness has been associated with death at the same levels of those smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Finding solutions to prevent social isolation is something we need to work on as society as a whole, because it affects everyone. Loneliness not only impacts the individual, but their caretakers and loved ones, and the country’s entire healthcare system.

According to a 2018 national survey by Cigna, loneliness levels have reached an all-time high, with nearly half of U.S. adults reporting they sometimes or always feel alone, and 40% reporting they sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful and that they feel isolated.

However, a lot of the times it’s not talked about. Many of those suffering from loneliness don’t feel comfortable admitting it, or asking for help.

Realizing the impact of loneliness and spreading awareness on the need to prevent and reduce social isolation increases the chance solutions will be implemented.

Advances in Telehealth Include Social Health

Stay-at-home orders and social distancing policies have exacerbated the health impacts of social isolation and loneliness on society.

However, with the rise of telehealth comes the rise of potential solutions for social isolation. Telewellness is a facet of telehealth that supports our overall wellbeing, including social health. We can use live streaming technologies and virtual events to keep us healthier for longer by allowing for socialization no matter the social distance.

About the Author

Madeline Hogan's picture

Madeline Hogan is a content and community manager at Televeda, a virtual recreation management platform that drives engagement for senior centers, senior living communities, and other organizations.

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