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Your Social Network’s Influence

How does your social network influence your health and happiness?

This blog series covers the five categories of Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), as defined by Healthy People 2030. As a reminder, they are: 1) our neighborhoods and built environments, 2) health and health care, 3) social and community context, 4) education, and 5) economic stability.[1]  In this post, I’d like to talk about social and community context, and the impact that our relationships and social networks can have on our health, happiness, and overall quality of life.

I think it goes without saying that a strong network of supportive family and friends can profoundly impact someone’s health and happiness. As people, we often need to feel love and support to thrive. There are mountains of research that support this too, and that highlight the consequences of hostile, or unsupportive relationships.

Positive connections with our family and friends can give us confidence, a sense of purpose, and “tangible resources” like food, shelter, compassion, and advice, that play into our well-being.[2] Not only do positive relationships influence our self-esteem and self-worth, they also help mitigate, or ease the blow of negative stressors in life. Think about a bad breakup you once had, or that time you were laid off – how much worse would those life events have felt had you not had a supportive network around you, lifting you back up?

The consequences of negative social support, especially early in life, are important to understand, because they can significantly alter a child’s trajectory in life. Children who are neglected, abused, or lack a family support system are more likely to experience poor “social behavioral, educational outcomes, employment status, and mental and physical health,” as they age and enter adulthood.[3] For those who have experienced negative childhoods, community support, resources, and positive networks become critically important elements for their health and happiness in adulthood.

At Colorado Access, our mission is caring for you and your health. We know that positive health outcomes involve more than just physical wellness; they include support, resources, and access to a full spectrum of physical and behavioral care. Achieving a high quality of life requires support, and as an organization we strive to provide that support. How? Through our vetted, high-quality network of physical and behavioral health providers. Through conducting diligent data analyses to ensure our programs provide optimal outcomes for our members. And, through our network of care coordinators and care managers who are there to help our members through every step of their health care journey.