Coping with the trauma of either man-made or natural disaster can present exclusive challenges; though individuals might not be directly involved in the event. While a person may not be affected directly, experience of events like a plane crash, mass shooting or a surprise attack victim via watching or reading on social media and news sources of these people that are direct victims of these unpleasant events may result in trauma.
A study conducted by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) discovered that 91% of people had been exposed to at least one trauma in a lifetime; 69% had been repeatedly exposed to trauma for long periods of time. Only 7% acquired a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis and 78% were for the psychiatric comorbidity diagnoses, 67% of the patients reported suicidal thoughts in the month preceding the intake; while 31% had attempted suicide in the preceding week as an integer amount of diagnoses were associated with specific traumas. Other specific traumas associated were suicidal tendencies and self-harming behaviours.
Regardless of the explanation for trauma in individuals and whether it took place a few months or years, individuals can build and achieve healing from such events through social support and move forward with a productive life. Be it formal or informal, social support networks can provide a way of refuge, belonging, and community for victims of traumatic experiences.
Victims that are supported by close relationships with friends, family, or fellow members of work, church or other support groups after such an unpleasant traumatic experience are less predisposed to an unhealthiest and untimely death. Social support can also help in rebuilding resilience against compassion fatigue of care-givers, increase a sense of belonging, isolation, and hearing how others cope can help inspire survivors in their own recovery.
It builds connectivity
While it’s unrealistic some of us think that traumatic individuals never experience any disagreement with family or friends, spending time with them should cause an increased bond, relieve bad experience, feel acknowledged, calm, energised and revived and not be intimidated or nervous on the path to recovery. Allowing family and friends know victims are keen on them, value and show understanding will help make sure that their resilience remains tough when the era of difficulties are rough.
Spending time together helps in positive connectivity which can help with a stable psychological, emotional and physical health as well as extremely significant and efficient for recovery. With reduced segregation after devastating events and support, negative thought patterns are reduced.
Helps in body functionality
Not only does social support have a positive impact on our emotions, but it also seems to be involved in major responsibility on how the body’s immune system functions. Sometimes, we probably must have noticed that there is a critical link on how emotions – sadness, happiness, grief, joy collaborate with our physical health which further impacts our mental health.
Also, studies have revealed that there is strong connectivity between stable mental health and boosting of the immune system which further improves complex decision making, and prevents cognitive decline compared to persons who describe their relationship as lacking depth. Hence, individuals with unstable mental health not only contact fewer trivial illnesses like flues or colds but also are likely to suffer from serious health issues like cancer and heart disease.
The aftermath of a trauma is often demoralising to the extent that many lose their source of income and wealth. While authorities and government organisations can provide a variety of support schemes for survivors who have gone through some unpleasant life experience, more is needed from family, friends and other support networks.
Professor Aasebø May noted that asking for financial assistance is usually the type of help that a number of people find difficult to venture upon; that’s why social support networks can help even when victims are shy or unstable to demand one. This type of help also can include finding information about current entitlements and stepping into agreements with banks about loan repayments, etc
Helps curb negative relationships
Traumatic experiences though it may not always involve physical harm often pose a threat to safety, the event leaves one feeling beleaguered and secluded. Just as social support networks help build connections with people of like minds, it can also help in preventing conflicting and negative relationships which may be a challenge for survivors’ emotional and psychological health.
Such negative aspects of behaviour may be obvious, that is abusive while at other times they can be more excessive dependence or over-controlling. With a positive support network, there’s a possibility of long-term stable relationships that are more beneficial and rewarding because the network of those who possess similar challenges can help to limit the amount of contact with negative people, avoid relying on them for support and also preventing relapses.
Even for those without depression, social support has its long-lasting benefits on societal demands since it can help prevent negative thought patterns from festering too long. Through a social support system, positive influence can be created to assist survivors to discover solutions to their present problems and show them diverse perspectives of solving future challenges.
With a strong positive support system associated with people who have a healthy lifestyle and are open to experience, rather than unhealthy behaviour daily decisions are influenced that may impact future actions. Research has also discovered that not only does the receiving party enjoy the support, but the support-giving party benefits also. Giving support to someone you care about triggers the reward and memory centre of the brain.
Onah Caleb is a research assistant at Benue State University (Nigeria). He runs the blog KaylebsThought.