The Study Of Social Isolation And Its Effect On Mental Health

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“Isolation can lead to uniqueness but uniqueness also walks the path of mental institutions” – Winston Seeney Social isolation can be defined as having little contact or absence of social contact. When individuals keep themselves away from people around them and have no friends and have totally cut off from normal social networking then they are known as being socially isolated. Social isolation and loneliness may sound similar but they are not, as loneliness is a state of emotion that is felt by the individuals who are not satisfied by their social connection or friends or even family. A person or an individual who is experiencing social isolation may not be experiencing loneliness. Social isolation can last for years but loneliness can be temporary. There can be many causes of social isolation, it is involuntary but can also be voluntary like individual with intellectual disabilities, neurological disorders or developmental delays, may have underdeveloped social skills, due to which they avoid making contacts with others out of shame, embarrassment or fear. Physical disabilities or long-term illnesses like cancer, muscle dystrophy, HIV/AIDS, economic struggles, domestic violence or employment can trigger and be some of the causes of social isolation. People with all age groups show almost same symptoms of social isolation like- deep boredom, significant disrepair, general lack of interest and withdrawal, losing interest in personal hygiene, poor eating and nutrition, clutter and hoarding in the home.

When an individual denies human companionship they open the gates for health related problems such as high blood pressure, depression and severe cases of stress and psychological breakdowns which sends the human immune system into a panic state and many other mental health issues. Primary social groups like family, friends and neighbors are the main source of social ties especially in adolescence and old age. Secondary social groups may include being a member of an organization such as cultural clubs, political groups or religious organizations. These organizations are very important forum for social relationships and for people who are isolated can serve as a regular form of social connection and contact. Berkman and associates have made a four key pathway that explains increasing links between social isolation and health. They contend that social networks influence a person’s health and prosperity through at least one of the accompanying possible social and behavioral mechanisms: (1) Provision of social support (2) Social influence,(3) Social engagement and attachment, and (4) Access to resources. For example: support needed at the time of illness is provided by social networks, thereby it is contributing to better adaption and quicker the recovery time. Social ties can be instrumental in adherence to good health practices and the cessation of bad ones.

There have always been very negative effects of social isolation in adolescence; because when teens feel or get isolated they indulge in things like use of drugs, drinking alcohol, poor performance at school, ignoring people around them even if people are willing to talk and communicate with them.

Historical background

Social isolation has occurred as one effect of stigma. Many people these days don’t expose themselves to the judgmental audience. Because as we all know that chronic illness are stigmatizing in our society and possibility of revealing these can slow down the social interaction of a person. In a study which was examining the chronic sorrow in HIV-positive patients, stigma that led to social isolation of these patients. African American women with children were found to be more isolated and stigmatized than gay men because of the stigma were women’s were perceived as “dirty sex” and “moral threat”. Social isolation must be viewed from the individual’s culture definition of numbers, quality of contact, the longevity and durability of these contacts, and the negativism faced by the isolated individual. As indicated by Mullins and McNicholas, “While many isolated people don’t feel themselves lonely, numerous people incorporated in the society do. Therefore, the ideas of isolation and loneliness do not overlap.” Social incorporation happens because of the absence of an adequate informal community. However, this isn’t seen adversely for the elderly who can have some good times and profitable time alone. Social isolation has been revised as a far reaching issue in 10-43% of the population which leads to physical and mental health issues among the elderly in the community. Social isolation is a grave and boundless issue among seniors in the society causing numerous harmful health conditions. Social isolation that influences health, prosperity and life quality among numerous seniors happens in high prevalence and it is normal that this hazard would increment in accordance with the all-around expanding senior population. Social isolation among seniors has many negative effects increasing risk factors of mortality, readmission to doctor’s facility and continuous falling.

Theoretical background

Differing perspectives on social isolation have been offered by various psychological sub-disciplines. There is contradicting evidence regarding the nature and implications of solitude. Hence, it may be measured in terms of its costs and benefits.

a) Isolation is bad

Social relationships and affiliations have been considered adaptive to the survival of humans from centuries and provide evolutionary advantages. Since time immemorial, human beings have affiliated them to one group or the other for social, emotional or physical support. It has been suggested by developmental psychologists that excessive solitude can lead to pain and suffering psychological in nature, can impede the evolution of self-esteem, damage important relationships and prevent the process of learning. Need for affiliation has been considered to be a basic need by certain psychologists and the concept of the need to belong has been highlighted in the belong theory.

b) Isolation can be good

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A very different historical tradition has brought to attention the benefits of being alone. For example, Greek and Roman philosophers suggested that separation from group can actually help an individual to achieve happiness, wisdom and excellence. Montaigne acknowledged that humans should strive for solitude to escape dogmas, pressures and conventional ways of thinking. Winnicott(1958) proposed that aloneness along with a facilitating environment during infancy can actually help in self-discovery, self-realization and psychological maturity.

Review of litrature

Lande (2007) examined the connections among social isolation, psychological health, and protective factors in adolescence. Sentiments of social isolation may influence psychological health in teenagers, however protective factors, for example, family connectedness, school connectedness, and scholastic accomplishment may additionally assume a key job. The study included 4,746 adolescence from 31 center furthermore, secondary schools. Members reacted to 221 study questions in regards to peer connections, psychological health, school connectedness, family connection boats, and scholarly accomplishment. The discoveries uncovered that social isolation was related with an expanded hazard for depressive side effects, suicide at-entices, and low confidence. Protective components impacted relationship between social isolation and psychological health.

Tiwari and Ruhela (2012) examined social isolation and depression amongst adolescence and investigated prevalent gender differences in other variables that were selected. For the study 300 samples (150 boys and 150 girls) age ranging from 16-18 years old were taken from Delhi. Incidental-Cum-Purposive Sampling technique was used for selecting the samples for the study. Youth problem inventory was used for measuring social isolation and depression among the selected population. The results indicated a positive correlation between social isolation and depression. Significant gender difference was also found stating girls were high on rate of depression and social isolation as compared to the boys.

Sanders (2012) examined the relationship of internet use associated with depression and social isolation among adolescence. The sample consisted of 89 students (37 males and 52 females) recruited from Florida high school. Administration of students was done by 181-likert type scale that analyzed multiple behavioral and psychological aspect of adolescence life. The results put a light on, that people who use less of internet as compared to high users of internet, have better relationship with mothers and family.

Matthews (2015) was interested in knowing whether social isolation at primary school level and early adolescence lead to mental health problems. The data was collected from Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a birth cohort of 2,232 children born in England and Wales in 1994 and 1995. Social isolation was measured by using teacher’s and mother’s report of children aged between 5-12 years. Regression analysis was conducted to test concurrent and longitudinal associations between early family factors, social isolation, and mental health difficulties. The findings of the study revealed that children who were socially isolated at primary and secondary level of schooling experienced greater mental health difficulties. Children with ADHD and behavioral problems symptoms at the age of 5 had a greater risk of becoming more socially isolated.

Endo (2016) Investigated the preference for solitude (pfs), social isolation , suicidal ideation (SI) and self-harm (SH) among adolescence. The sample for the study was selected from junior and senior high school between the age group of 12-18 years. Cross sectional study was conducted using a self-report questionnaire. Link between Pfs, SI, and SH were examined by logistic regression analysis. The interactions between PfS and social isolation on SI and SH were also investigated. The odds of SI and SH were examined for groups defined by presence of PfS and social isolation. The results declared that PfS was related with expanded odds of SI and SH in young people. No interaction impact among PfS and social isolation on SI and SH was found, yet teenagers with PfS and social isolation had the most astounding danger for SI and SH. Guardians and experts should focus on suicide chance in young people with Pfs.

Christofferson (2016) was interested in studying how is Social Networking Sites Effecting Teen’s Social and Emotional Development. The method selected for the study was a systematic review by reviewing 15 articles information was gathered about how SNS affect the mental health. The studies gathered concluded that there are both risks and benefits to teenager’s social and emotional development when it comes to the use of SNS.

Niño (2016) investigated the relationship between types of social isolation and violent delinquency. The elements for the hypotheses were driven from general strain theory, it was tested that whether the isolation-violence relationship varies across different types of isolated youth when compared to the sociable youth. Negative experiences and circumstances (types of social strain) associated with adolescence moderate the relationship between isolation types and violent delinquency were also tested. With the help of National Longitudinal Study of Adolescence Health, it was found that different types of social isolation had varying effects on violent delinquency. Youth who were socially disinterested show a greater potential for violent behavior, but other types of youth showed no difference in violence when compared to sociable youth. Results also declared that some types of strain moderate the isolation-violence relationship.

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