Mitigating childhood adversity through early interventions constitutes an important “upstream” strategy for promoting population health across generations.
Social support is also an important protective factor, which can help children build resilience to childhood trauma and other risk factors.
Researchers agree that social support is positively correlated with Socio-economic status (SES), where higher SES individuals have access to more valuable social networks that often exclude lower SES groups.
What is social support?
Social support, defined as support accessible to an individual through social ties to other individuals, groups, and the larger community, is derived from social networks and accessed through social capital. Social capital refers to the ability of actors to secure benefits by virtue of membership in social networks and other social structures.
Groups or individuals with a rich stock of social capital can access greater resources, or social supports, that can help them to address their health and social needs. This unequal access to social support contributes to disparities in health, education, and mobility.
Social support systems, by increasing social capital, enable individuals to obtain the ‘benefits,’ or social support (emotional, informational, instrumental, and appraisal support), needed to build resiliency to risk and promote well-being.
However, current social support systems are characterized by pervasive limitations, including:
- Their utilization of an isolated impact approach,
- Lack of ACE integration
- Service fragmentation,
- Lack of a systematic approach,
- Geographic limitations,
- Low resource density in certain communities, and
- Complete lack of embodiment of technology.
These challenges inhibit the efficiency and efficacy of social support systems to deliver services to marginalized populations. Additionally, research shows that members of disadvantaged groups are those least able to obtain needed resources because they often lack the skills, knowledge, and connections to navigate traditional social support systems.