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Role of Social Support Network


Social support is the way through which, individuals feel that others offer to them a sense of care, support, and assistance. This offers an individual a supportive social network, which can be either emotional or tangible. Emotional support normally entails care while tangible support could be financial, material, informational, and companionship. The people close to us, whom we interact with every day, such as friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors, classmates, and pets may provide social support (Trigg, 2001).

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Relationship between social support networks in a community and the community’s health

Community health is the study of how to make the community a better and more comfortable place for people to live within the same geographical area. Social support networks being a form of unpaid help will have a positive impact on the community’s health (Addy et al., 2004, p. 441). This is because the community is normally composed of different people who belong to diverse classes of life with different problems and challenges. Therefore, social support helps reduce stress levels of individuals by knowing that others value them as important personalities (DuBois & Silverthorn, 2005, p.520). It is also effective in providing informational support to the community members thus, helping them overlook the undesirable aspects of their lives and concentrate more on positive thinking (Valente et al., 2003, p.1837).

Social support is also one way of minimizing the magnitude of diseases caused by isolation. These diseases include cigarette smoking and alcoholism, which tend to be triggered by social isolation. The repercussions are very severe and lead to adverse health hazards. Additionally, social support greatly influences people’s characters and emotions by providing a sense of concern to members of the community. Generally, social support plays a very critical role in the community’s health by providing social security and companionship to individuals in the community.

Effective strategies for incorporating community social support networks into a public health program

Social support networks are known to have adverse impacts on the physical and mental health of an individual. The network can be incorporated at various levels of the community. The support network could operate upstream or downstream of the environment. This could be through the provision of social support by way of intimacy and attachments. The relationship could be between parents and children or partners, thus creating a strong bond between the members involved.

Secondly, we have social influence, which can be used to incorporate public health. Idols and peers can be used to influence people to withdraw from social norms like drugs alcoholism and cigarette smoking. For instance, a network of non-smokers has the potential of making a chain smoker quit smoking. Social engagement is another strategy, which involves the participation of all members of the community. Such a strategy involves attending social functions such as church meetings, get together and other public events hosted in the community. Social engagements help maintain cognitive ability and reduce mortality.

For instance, person-to-person contact helps minimize the spread of infectious diseases. Finally, access to material goods and resources is crucial in the operation of social support networks in the public health program. Through the provision of access to social networks, individuals get closer to public health facilities that are available for them in the community.


Concisely, social support networks provide informational, emotional, and physical support among other forms of support. Researchers have identified a positive relationship between social support and physical health thus; we cannot afford to live a life free of social support (Kaplan & Kaplan, 2003, p. 1486). With this knowledge in mind, it is important to incorporate social support into public health to ensure its availability to the community at all levels.

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Reference List

Addy, C. et al. (2004). Associations of perceived social and physical environmental supports with physical activity and walking behavior. American Journal of Public Health, 94, 440–443.

DuBois, L., & Silverthorn, N. (2005). Natural mentoring relationships and adolescent health: Evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health, 95, 518–524.

Kaplan, S., & Kaplan, R. (2003). Health, supportive environments, and the reasonable person model. American Journal of Public Health, 93, 1484–1489.

Trigg, R. (2001). Understanding social science: A philosophical introduction to the social sciences. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers.

Valente, T. et al. (2003). Adolescent health: Effects of a social-network method for group assignment strategies on peer-led tobacco prevention programs in schools. American Journal of Public Health, 93, 1837–1843.

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