July is Social Welfare Month and the Public Affairs Officer at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital discussed the topic of social welfare with Chief of Behavioral Health, Lt. Col. Alexander Ragan.
Q: The Defense Health Agency describes social well-being as essential to overall well-being, suggesting that relationships can provide essential support during difficult times. In your own words, what exactly is social welfare?
A: Social well-being is the relationships we have with others and how we interact with each other. This is how we are able to recognize when others are struggling and how we support each other. It’s about getting to know others, letting them know you, and building on that to build a meaningful, healthy, and supportive relationship. In short, it’s connecting with others and maintaining that connection.
Q: As a Registered Clinical Social Worker and member of the Chief Behavioral Health Officer of BJACH, do you see a lot of patients who are suffering due to lack of outlets and social networks?
A: Yes, in practice we see some people for anxiety and stress related to their difficulty connecting or losing connection with others. It affects their daily lives. The past few years have been difficult to maintain social welfare. Connecting with others can be difficult in general, but during COVID we’ve had to be determined and creative to find, grow and maintain those connections. Social distancing was difficult at first for most of us, but we got used to it as it became our new normal.
Now, as we get to be around more people in social settings, we need to dust off our ability to connect with each other. Some of us are fearful when in social settings, while others are completely comfortable reconnecting. This apprehension should not be ignored. There are some things you can do to ease your discomfort and make it easier to connect with others.
Some ways to maintain or improve your social well-being and manage nervousness include limiting social media, using video calling apps, and regular face-to-face visits with family and friends. or by telephone. Introduce yourself slowly to more social events like going to the park, outside restaurants, or just having a conversation when having a cup of coffee or while waiting in line at the grocery store.
Q: Why is social welfare so important?
A: Connection to others is necessary for optimal health. The benefits of good social well-being are reduced rates of anxiety and depressive symptoms, higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, and stronger, more trusting and cooperative relationships.
Editor’s Note: For more tips on improving your social wellbeing, visit: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/national-guard/psychological-health-program/social-wellness/