Social Skills and Mental Health
Social skills are the tools that enable people to communicate,learn,ask for help ,get needs met in appropriate ways,get along with others,make friends,develop healthy relationships,protect themselves and in general be able to interact with the society harmoniously. (Wikipedia). Human being are sociable and have developed many ways to communicate our thoughts,feelings and ideas to one another. What is said is influenced by both verbal language and the way we use it -tone of voice,volume of speech and the words we choose and non-verbal language like body language,gestures ,etc. social skills are also referred to as ‘interpersonal’ or ‘soft’ skills. The process of learning these skills is called Socialization.It is no news that some people have good ‘interpersonal skills while others are poor at it. The good news is that it can be improved upon.
A study by Chris Segrin ,head of the UA department of communications has this to say about poor social skills and mental health;
‘We’ve known for a long time that social skills are associated with mental health problems like depression and anxiety, Segrin said. ‘But we’ve not known definitely that social skills were also predictive of poorer physical health. Two variables-loneliness and stress -appear to be the glue that bind social skills to health’. From this statement,you come to realize how much our social skills affect not just our success but our health especially our mental health. ‘When we loose our keys 99% of the time we find them and the stress goes away. We get in the car and it’s over. Lonely people experience that same sort of frantic search -in this case not for car keys but for meaningful relationships -and they don’t have the ability to escape from that stress. They are not finding what they are looking for,and that stress of frantically searching takes a toll on them’ he said. Study participants who had deficits in social skills reported more stress,more loneliness and poorer overall mental and physical health Segrin said. https://news.arizona.edu/
Being happily married or in a stable relationship impacts positively on mental health.Research has found that high marital quality is associated with lower stress and less depression. However, single people have better mental health outcomes than people who are unhappily married. Recent studies from Ireland and USA have found that negative social interactions and relationships,especially with partners/spouses,increase the risk of depression,anxiety and suicidal ideation,while positive interactions reduce the risk of these issues.
People in neighborhoods with higher levels of social cohesion experience lower rates of mental health problems than those in neighborhoods with lower cohesion,independent of how deprived or affluent a neighborhood is. Neighborhood social cohesion was associated with a reduction in depressive symptoms in older people.
Poor social skills can lead to social Isolation and put us at a greater risk of developing poor mental health so it’s important to develop our social skills towards preserving our mental health.
5 Important social skills are as follows;
Communication involves passing information (sending) and understanding (receiving) the same from one person to another through verbal and non verbal means. Our effectiveness at this is important.
This involves getting to the source of a problem and finding a practicable solution. Disagreements and dissatisfaction will arise from time to time in our dealings with people and this ability will help resolve it.
In active listening,you must learn to pay attention,withhold judgment,reflect,clarify,
It is the ability to understand and identify with the feelings of another. You will need to develop your ability to do this.
Assertiveness is a healthy way of communication. It is the ability to speak up for ourselves in a way that is honest and respectful. Some people communicate in a way that is too passive. Some others have a style that is too aggressive. There is a balance and we must develop this.
It’s important we develop our Social Skills as this impacts many areas of our lives including our Mental Health.