At its simplest, you can think of social support as the extent to which you feel yourself supported by others.
People have social support networks of different sizes. Social support also includes various groups or networks, including people from work, family, and friends from different parts of a person’s life.
We sometimes pick from our respective social networks the people who will “be there for us” and as a result, those who help us experience better health and well-being.
At its simplest, social support can be conceptualized as the extent to which people experience themselves as supported by others.
Perception of social support comprises a key aspect of the social support construct that is positively associated with emotional health and well-being, and negatively associated with depression and other negative health outcomes.
Social support is defined by the perception of being supported by others, and able to rely upon others for emotional and/or instrumental support, or the sense that others will “be there for us” when needed.
Variables that are inversely associated with social support, be it conceptually and/or empirically, include loneliness, social isolation, a perception of burdening others, and social hopelessness; those variables that are positively or directly associated with social support include acceptance, connectedness, positive rapport with or identification with others, and “mattering.”
Measures and methods for assessing the presence, nature, and degree of social support vary by the aspect of social support being examined.
Interventions to promote social support have varied in complexity, from in-person or online peer-support groups and psychotherapy groups, to individual psychological interventions designed to promote and strengthen social support and camaraderie, and reduce or prevent negative psychological symptoms and outcomes.