In This Together

The Importance of Social Identity in Health – Including Dealing with Pain

We know that humans are social beings. That is, we long for, and need connection with others. It is at the very heart of what it means to our being as a human. We know also that on the flip side of this is that social isolation is one of the greatest causes of depression and anxiety.

In this article we highlight the power in our social connections and the importance of social identity in our overall health; including pain and injury. This short piece includes a number of references and links to different articles and papers that explore the role that ‘community’ can play in adopting a more holistic approach to health. We’d love to hear your feedback.

How the modern world makes us mentally ill

Published by: The Book of Life

In this piece, published on The Book of Life website, the author considers how our busy modern world may be making us sick. In response to this they offer that:

“A cure would be a culture that endlessly promotes the idea that perfection is not within our grasp – that being mentally slightly (and at points very) unwell is an inescapable part of the human condition and that what we need above all are good friends with whom we can sit and honestly discuss our real fears and vulnerabilities.”

Read the full article HERE.

“In this together”: Social identification predicts health outcomes (via self-efficacy) in a chronic disease self-management program

Published by: Social Science and Medicine

The Abstract of this scientific journal publication notes that:

“Self-management programs are an established approach to helping people cope with the challenges of chronic disease, but the psychological mechanisms underlying their effectiveness are not fully understood. A key assumption of self-management interventions is that enhancing people’s self-efficacy (e.g., via the development of relevant skills and behaviours) encourages adaptive health-related behaviors and improved health outcomes. However, the group-based nature of the programs allows for the possibility that identification with other program members is itself a social psychological platform for positive changes in illness-related confidence (i.e., group-derived efficacy) and physical and mental health.”

Read the full article HERE.

The town that’s found a potent cure for illness – community

Published by:  in The Guardian

In this piece, the author George offers that:

It could, if the results stand up, be one of the most dramatic medical breakthroughs of recent decades. It could transform treatment regimes, save lives, and save health services a fortune. Is it a drug? A device? A surgical procedure? No, it’s a newfangled intervention called community.

Read the full article HERE.

The power of social connections and the rise of social prescribing

By: Daniel Frings

In this article, published on the Psychologyitbetter website, the write suggests that:

“One way of dealing with stress is to draw on the positive social identities in our lives. A growing body of research suggests that the social connections we have can buffer us from the effects of traumatic events, improve mental health and also let us bounce back from physical ailments more quickly. In the guise of ‘social prescribing’, this idea is also increasingly being used to find ways to replace or compliment medicine.:

Read the full article HERE.

The village effect

By: Robert Sams

In this previous blog article, I offer that:

Understandably, the typical approach to treating injuries and illnesses is to send people to specialists in the field related to their injury, and of course this makes sense and most people will recover and return to life and work.

For some people though recovery is delayed or prolonged, and some may experience ‘secondary illnesses’ such as anxiety and depression. The challenges of recovering from injury can be overwhelming. So what can we do when these traditional approaches don’t seem to be working and signs of anxiety or depression start to show?

If we are interested in exploring options outside of the traditional approaches, we could learn a thing or two from Susan Pinker who, in her book The Village Effect, explores “how face-to-face contact can make us healthier, happier and smarter”. Being with other people can enhance our well-being and support recovery from injury and illness.

Read the full article HERE.

Book Recommendation:

Making Sense of Illness: The Social Psychology of Health and Disease

By: Alan Radley

I referenced this book, and others by Radley when I wrote my paper titled Why is the mental health of workers so poorly dealt with by organisations? ( which I wrote as part of my studies in The Social Psychology of Risk. This paper was for Unit 6 – Holistic Ergonomics.

The Goodreads website notes about the book Making Sense of Illness:

This book is a “must read” for all students of health psychology, and will be of considerable interest and value to others interested in the field. The discipline has not involved itself with the central issues of this book so far, but Radley has now brought this material together in an accessible way, offering important new perspectives, and directions for the discipline. This book goes a long way towards making sense for, and of, health psychology’ – Journal of Health Psychology

What are people’s beliefs about health? What do they do when they feel ill? Why do they go to the doctor? How do they live with chronic disease?

Read more about the book HERE.

Full book siting: Radley, A. (1994) Making Sense of Illness: The Social Psychology of Health and Disease. SAGE Publications. London

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