As the holiday season comes to an end, I reflect upon happiness, thanksgiving - of food, fun - and above all time spent with family. This got me thinking about the very complex relationship between health and family. Families are a source of socialization and support, where behavioural habits and economic status are disseminated (whether positive or negative).
We see holiday food and gift drives all around us. Most of us never think about these drives in-depth beyond dropping off a few cans or toys. We don't think that the families in need donations, who are of low SES (social economic status), are also much more likely to have poor health. These families also face an increased probability of cultivating poor health behaviours.
On the contrary, family can also be a positive influence on the health. Families can be instrumental in supporting positive health behaviours, by holding each other accountable and by exchanging information. However, studies demonstrate that these tendencies are mostly found in mid to higher SES groups.
Another major benefit of a positive family influence is the provision of social and emotional support to the family unit. As mentioned by Sonya in her recent blog post, family and friends can play a vital role in coping with the emotional stressors we all face. Social scientists have found that individuals with strong family relationships have less chances of developing physical and mental illnesses. So, although the holiday season is winding down and we are back to work and school, remember that having family - and being family - matters.
Omar Trail’s interest in the social determinants of health, as well as the management of health care resources, led him to pursue a B.A in Health Studies and Political Science. He joined the GLITR team because he has a strong interest and passion for helping people lead healthier and happier lives. Omar is what some may describe as a “fitness nut” he enjoys living an active and healthy lifestyle. Omar also enjoys going to church, as he believes spiritual health is paramount.