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The power of social support can play an essential role in a person’s wellbeing and provide a great coping mechanism to help get through the difficult times in one’s life. Social support is having the reliance of family and friends to turn to in times of need or crisis. This supportive network of people can ultimately factor into how well you function on a day-to-day basis both psychologically and physically. Having a strong support system is so important because it can help alleviate stress, draw strength to carry on despite adversities and simply focus on the brighter side of life.
Social support can be received in various different forms. One form of social support is emotional support. Emotional support is “the expression of caring, concern, and empathy for a person as well as the provision of comfort, reassurance, and love to that person” (Sanderson, 2018, pp. 133). One way that you can show emotional support is by simply being a listening ear and allowing that person to open up and talk about the problems that they are facing.
This type of support shows a person that they are loved and valued. Another form of social support is belongingness support. This form of social support is “similar to emotional support in that it too includes a focus on being able to talk to others, but this type of support refers primarily to the availability of social companionship” (pp. 133). Sometimes having the presence of a companion to engage in social activities such as “going out to dinner, seeing a movie, and attending a party” can help take a person’s mind off the negative aspects of their lives and think more positively about the world around them (pp.
133). Wanting to stay in isolation and not engage in social interaction can be detrimentally bad for your health and can lead to issues like depression and anxiety.
Other forms of social support include instrumental or tangible support, informational or appraisal support and esteem or validational support. Instrumental support refers to the “provision of concrete assistance, such as financial aid, material resources, or needed services” (pp. 133). An example of instrumental support is by assisting to help pay someone’s medical bills or offering to take them to their regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments. Informational support refers to the provision of advice, guidance or useful information about how to cope with a particular problem. A doctor can offer informational support to their patients by informing them about their medical condition and offering alternative methods or options to help improve their health. Lastly, esteem support is the “reassurance of one’s values and affirmation of self-worth” (Lecture 14). This type of social support can help uplift a person when they are at their lowest point by boosting their self-esteem and make them feel better about themselves.
A great depiction of the power of social support is very well depicted in Josh Boone’s movie “The Fault in Our Stars”. This movie introduces the story of two teenagers who rely on the companionship of each other to get through their battles with cancer. Gus was very intrigued by Hazel and wanted to know everything about her and not just her cancer story but her personal story. By being a listening ear he allowed for Hazel open up and she felt that sense of security to be able to confide in him. This form of emotional support made Hazel feel normal. He viewed her as an individual and not just the terminal illness that she was diagnosed with. Gus and Hazel spent a lot of time together watching movies, and talking about Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction written by Peter Van Houten. Because of the love they shared for this book, it allowed them to develop an even closer relationship and they traveled to visit the author in Amsterdam to inquire about what happens at the end of the book. The instrumental support of the Genies which granted Gus his wish stood as a financial resource into making this trip happen. Even though their trip didn’t go as planned, the chance to travel overseas gave them the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and eventually fall in love. Gus constantly showed Hazel esteem/validational support.
He never stopped affirming to her how beautiful she was and he always told her how much she meant to him. Even though Hazel viewed herself as a grenade that will eventually blow up and destroy everything in its path, Gus reassured her that nothing would lessen his affection towards her. He was okay with having his heartbroken by her because he was truly was in love with her. Hazel’s parents who also played such a huge part in her life. They loved her unconditionally and never left her side. The reassurance that they will continue to live a fulfilled life after Hazel is gone brought so much comfort to her. In the movie Hazel’s mother Frannie tells Hazel that she is taking classes in social work to in pursuit of offering informational support and future counsel to others families going through the same thing.
Through the illustration of the movie “The Fault in Our Stars”, we see that a strong social network is indeed very essential and is important to further analyze in the field of healthy psychology because it can aid to the recovery, physical and psychological wellbeing and improvement to the quality of life. One research study that was conducted that explores the impact of social support is an article in the Psycho-Oncology journal titled Optimism, social support, and mental health outcomes in patients with advanced cancer. The purpose of the article is to “examine the role of optimism as a moderator of the relationship between social support and anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and quality of life among patients with advanced cancer” (Applebaum et al., 2014). This research study required a sample size of 168 participants to self‐report the assessments of psychosocial, spiritual, and physical well‐being and determine to which extent do these variables have on social support, optimism, hopelessness, depressive and anxious symptoms, and quality of life. The results from this study showed that “higher levels of optimism and perceived social support were significantly associated with fewer anxious and depressive symptoms, less hopelessness, and better quality of life” (Applebaum et al., 2014).
In conclusion, social support has shown to have beneficial effects on overall well‐being. According to the research study, “social support serves as a protective factor against physical morbidity and mortality, protects against distress and psychopathology, and promotes psychological adjustment to chronic medical illnesses, including cancer. Among patients with cancer, social support is associated with fewer psychological symptoms and greater well‐being and appears to serve as a protective factor against negative health outcomes, including mortality” (Applebaum et al., 2014). “The Fault in Our Stars” illustrated the power of social support by showing that through social activities, positive appraisals, support groups and the provision of informational resources, even a person diagnosed with a terminal illness can still have a shot of living a substantial life with the skills needed to manage life’s hardships.
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