Social and emotional health

Learn what social and emotional health is and how community based programming can help develop and support personal health development.

Michigan State University Extension offers several social and emotional health programs to assist with stress management, parenting, dating/relationship building and bullying. All programs are research based – meaning there are evaluations that are distributed then collected and studied to measure their impact and delivery. Social and emotional health and wellbeing is a broad topic that can carry over into a person’s physical and mental health.

Social and emotional health and wellbeing involves the social, mental, psychological and spiritual aspects of an individual’s life across the lifespan. This includes forming and maintaining satisfying and healthy relationships, considering another’s perspective, resolving interpersonal conflict, feeling capable and whole, expressing emotions, navigating stress, having supportive relationships and having a positive sense of self – including developing a healthy sense of identity around aspects related to race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, spirituality and abilities/disabilities. As is true for all aspects of human development, social and emotional wellbeing must be addressed at the personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural levels. Besides MSU Extension programming, there are various other community based programs that support and develop social and emotional health.

There are several anonymous community-based groups that help people cope with diseases such as addictions that affect families and friends socially and emotionally. Some of the anonymous groups include: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous and Co-Dependents Anonymous. Besides help for people with addictions, there is help for their family members and friends who have suffered or is suffering due to the disease of addiction. These groups are called: Al-Anon, Alateen and Nar-Anon.

Al-Anon, Alateen and Non-Anon are group programs for people who seek help for their own social and emotional health due to their relationships with someone who has an addiction. These meetings are conducted using the 12 steps used in anonymous groups but the attention is on oneself, not the alcoholic or addict. The 12 step program is the same except that step 12 is altered so that it speaks of carrying the Al-Anon message to “others,” rather than to “alcoholic or addict.”

The 12 steps are:

  1.  We admit that we are powerless over alcohol – that are lives have become unmanageable.
  2. Coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God – as we understood him.
  4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admit to God, to ourselves and to other human beings the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Make a list of all persons we harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except if doing so would injure them or others.
  10. Continue to take a personal inventory and when we are wrong, promptly admit it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

If you are struggling with a social and emotional health issue, seek help. Reaching out is a sign of strength and is key to recovery and serenity. Resources can be found at or

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