People often confuse mental health with social health. What does it mean to be socially healthy? What it means to be socially healthy is to be able to have positive interactions with others. Socially healthy people communicate well and do not isolate themselves. The socially healthy individual does not have aggressive or passive behaviors.
Though social health is not the same as mental health, some mental illnesses negatively affect social health. Depression and anxiety disorders often make the person want to isolate from others. Social phobia and agoraphobia can cause a severe aversion to being in public. This can be so severe that the person will not leave the home or interact with others at all.
Autism Spectrum Disorder can cause significant social impairment. A child with autism may not react or respond at all to people around them. Asperger’s syndrome can cause a lack of emotional connection with others as well as an aversion to any touch. Children with Asperger’s often refer to people with nicknames that they assign the people instead of addressing or referring to people by name.
A socially healthy individual respects personal boundaries. Some people who are not socially healthy will ignore physical and emotional boundaries. The person may tell personal details about their life upon meeting someone or stand uncomfortably close to people.
Socially healthy people are neither passive nor aggressive. Passive people allow others to take advantage of them. Aggressive people become loud or violent at the perception of any conflict. Being able to communicate without allowing others to invade the person’s rights or elevate conflict to violence is essential to social health.
Age affects social health. Like our bodies and intellect develop over childhood and adolescence, so do social skills. When a toddler plays with other toddlers, the toddlers often engage in what is called parallel play. They may be playing in the same room or right next to each other, but each toddler is playing alone. Interactive play begins as the child matures towards becoming school age. Throughout elementary school, children are able to play together in an interactive way.
Having friends, spending time with friends and family outside the home, and not feeling inhibited about being in public are important for social health. Ideally, the person should at least feel capable of participating in community events, interest groups, or religious activities.
If people feel that they need to improve their social health, many therapists work with individuals with social impairments. Such therapy is often conducted by creating goals and working towards achieving them.