Social Support Networks

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 Guest post contributed by Phil Halfpenny

You might think you can go at life alone, that you’re a big tough dude who doesn’t need any help or any support.

Brother, you might be that one in a million who can…

…chances are though, just like pretty much everyone else on this planet a social support network is something you need to have and something to be mindful of.

A solid social support network can be the difference between victory and failure, happiness and depression or even at our darkest hours, life and death.

What is a social support network?

A social support network is a group of people who support you in your daily life.

Many studies have been shown to indicate that a good social support network is essential not only for your psychological health, but also your physical health.

Social support networks can limit your vulnerabilities as well as help to reduce stress and increase your mental resilience.

Your friends, your family and your colleagues at work could all be part of your network, these are people who you can easily talk to in confidence if needed. They should be people who are mindful of your struggles and people who are not quick to judge. You might find them in Facebook support groups, anywhere else online or at home and at work.

These people are the ones you should be able to turn to when you need advice, help or just to vent.

Indeed social support is such a powerful tool.

I want to give an incredible example of it in action:

If we consider the American veteran POW’s from the Vietnam War we look at the men who spent 6 to 8 years staying at the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ and how most of them came back from the war with PTSD due to the terrible conditions they lived through, many of those affected were isolated from their fellow POW’s for extended periods of time.

These men however managed to stay in touch with each other via an ingenious system of wall knocking, each knocking pattern indicated a different letter of the alphabet and thus they stayed in contact and built up comradery through the walls of the prison.

These men managed to, through this rudimentary social support network, maintain their own mental resilience and resolve throughout this period of incarceration and when they returned home after the war they were able to recover mentally and physically much quicker than some prisoners who had been completely isolated elsewhere.

These men developed relationships for life through this tap code which enabled them to share their feelings and their aspirations through thick concrete walls, this created a mindset whereby these men had a support group within the prison.

Everybody needs a group of people in their life that they can count on so that they might share their feelings, not only will this sharing ‘lighten’ your burden, but it will also enable you to gain advice from people on facing difficult or traumatic times.

Social support doesn’t just end with others helping you, it also consists of you assisting others.

Self-esteem support can be incredibly important to people who are going through periods of crisis or doubt in their own lives, this is the kind of support that offers a perception of value from one person to another, something as simple as asking an opinion of someone can boost their confidence and self-belief and is an easy way to enable social support.

Appraisal support is another type of support you should consider when thinking about helping others, this is when an individual perceives that they can come to you for advice. This is incredibly important when you are operating in a mentor capacity to someone, such as a student or even your own children. Make yourself available and others will do the same.

Together, we can create so much more than when we are apart. As strong as we are as men, divided we can actually be incredibly weak even though we may not notice it, however you do it, I would urge you to create, work on and maintain your own social structure group of people who lift you up and, who you in turn lift up.

Phil Halfpenny Bio:

Phil Halfpenny is a writer and blogger who specializes in Leadership, Motivation and Finance.

His first book, The Art of Budgeting is available now –

The Art of Budgeting UK

The Art of Budgeting USA

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