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What is Social Health?

By G. Wiesen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Social health is a term generally used to refer to two different concepts, though they are somewhat interrelated as well. In one sense it refers to the health of a person in reference to his or her ability to interact with others and thrive in social settings. It can also refer to the health of a society in general, and how the members of that society are treated and behave toward each other. This type of health is often considered of great importance in regards to individual health, especially as further information and research has established how social interactions can assist in improving other forms of health.

Along with physical health and mental health, social health forms the last of the three fundamental and vital forms of health for a person. Physical and mental health typically deal with an individual and how well his or her body and mind are functioning and keeping his or her various systems running properly. Social health, on the other hand, often indicates how that person interacts with other people, as well as the consequences or benefits of such interactions in relation to the well-being of that person. While it is still heavily invested in individual health, it also considers the interconnected nature of society in general.

Social health often deals with how people relate to each other, and how an individual is able to socialize with other people and form relationships. This can deal with friendships, in terms of how well the person can form and keep friendships, and other types of relationships as well. There are a number of ways in which the different aspects of health are interrelated and have an impact on each other. For example, the study of human sexuality often deals with all three types of health in understanding how people relate to each other and how sexuality manifests for an individual and affects the relationships that individual has with others.

There is also evidence to indicate that isolation is not only a potential result of mental or physical illness, but may also cause or aggravate such an illness. This is why social health has become of increasing importance within the greater overall concept of human health and well-being. Many mental and physical health professionals have begun to recognize the importance of social interaction in a person’s ability to overcome illness.

The term can also refer to the health of a society, and is often used to indicate how the people within a given society or culture interact and behave toward each other. In this sense, a country that is rife with conflict and violence may be considered to be suffering from social issues. Just as a person whose body is suffering from cancerous cells destroying healthy cells has a physical health issue, and the jargon of physical or mental health care may be used in reference to society as well.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon954118 — On May 30, 2014

I am doing an assessment on health and this site helps. Thanks.

By Kevingilliam — On Jun 29, 2012

It's a well written article. Thanks for sharing it with us.

By wiesen — On Jan 01, 2011

@BioNerd: I'm not sure where you got the idea that "good sexual health is the pinnacle of good social health". That is certainly not the point being made in this article. Good sexual health is certainly important, but that does not refer to an abundance of sexual activity. It refers to healthy attitudes, practices, and understanding of sexuality.

Sexual health is only a small facet of social health. Relationships between friends and family members, the ways in which co-workers relate, and functioning well in a group of people are all aspects of social health. Sexuality was used briefly as an example in the article, only because it is a simple reference to a common, social human activity.

By FitzMaurice — On Dec 24, 2010


I think that this sounds a little like unnecessary worry. If a community is genuinely this bad, it may be helpful for you to find a new group of people to hang out with. If the problem is with your own perception of them, however, you may need to adopt a more forgiving attitude. Every community has problems, and a member of such a community will find it necessary to forgive cause people hurt each other. This will benefit your own social health in the long run as well.

By Armas1313 — On Dec 23, 2010

One major mental health problem is based on being antisocial. People with bad psychological health will have bad social health, and vice-versa. A person's ability to thrive is based upon a strong community. If a community is collectively seeking to simply exploit one another, however, the balancing act of who to trust becomes difficult and people's mental health naturally suffers.

By BioNerd — On Dec 22, 2010

If good sexual health is the pinnacle of good social health, I don't understand why everybody doesn't just have sex all the time. I honestly can't have a good relationship with many people if that is their primary goal. I often find myself socially paranoid because when I am around sexually promiscuous people, I know that the only reason they are trying hard to get to know me is because they want to have sex. I really don't think sex should ever be seen as the pinnacle of social interaction.

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