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early and sustained social support it is a positive factor in their successfully
preventing or overcoming stress at a later period. When individuals and
family members know that they are valued by other people, it is an
important psychological predictor in helping them to cope with negative
aspects of their lives. During periods of serious economic difficulties,
social support can be a major factor in helping to address existing pro-
blems and prevent symptoms of depression and other difficulties from
Researchers over several decades have determined that certain kinds
of social support can influence the outcome of specific types of physical
and mental health issues. Cutrona, Russell, and Rose (1986) described six
criteria that have been used to measure the level of social support available
for a specific person or situation. These criteria could also be applicable
to involuntarily job-displaced workers and members of their families.
They are outlined as follows:
The amount of attachment provided from a loved one or spouse;
The level of social integration of the individual, usually with a group
of friends;
The assurance of worth from others—positive reinforcement
could inspire and boost self-esteem;
The reliable support that is provided by others, which means that the
individual knows they can depend on receiving support from friends
and/or family members whenever it is needed;
The guidance and assurances of support given to the individual from a
high-ranking figure or person such as a teacher, employer, or parent;
The opportunity for nurturance, meaning the person would receive
some social enhancement by having children of their own and provid-
ing a nurturing experience.
Many displaced workers and their families have been impacted by
very unfamiliar work-related life changes. Some are introduced to various
government and business policies and programs that have been created to
assist displaced workers to adapt to job loss. Jobless benefits are often lim-
ited or unavailable for terminated workers and families who need or
desire immediate or long-term help. Social support may help fill some of
the gaps for displaced workers such as single-parent families or families
where most of the family members have become jobless. Social support,
both workplace- and non-workplace-based, is a major untapped resource
for helping displaced workers and families.
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