Happy Mental Health Month our friends!
Yesterday, marked the beginning of the month in which we focus on the psychological wellbeing of ALL of us Australians. And the theme for 2017 is ‘Share the Journey’, highlighting the importance of connecting with others for our physical and psychological health, and survival.
When we feel connected, valued and loved by others it gives us a sense of security, support, purpose and happiness. Close connections and good relationships with others allow us to enjoy the good times in our lives and also help us deal with the hard experiences we face. This is important for all of us. Unfortunately in today’s society, we have many demands on our attention and time, and more people experience loneliness in Australia than ever before. For those experiencing or living with mental illness, loneliness can be far worse as individuals can face social exclusion, stigma and discrimination. As social beings, this can affect all aspects of our wellbeing.
And it’s more than just our feelings of connection and sense of safety and support. Hanging out with those around us is vital for our physical survival. Research has shown that:
- Social connection is a greater determinant to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressire.
- Strong social connection leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity.
- Social connection strengthens out immune system, helps us recover from disease faster, and may even lengthen our life!
- People who feel more connected to others have lower rates of anxiety and depression than the general population.
Despite the clear importance for health and survival, sociological research suggests that social connectedness is waning at an alarming rate. A revealing sociological study showed that the modal number of close confidantes (i.e., people with whom one feels comfortable sharing a personal problem) people claimed to have in 1985 was only three. In 2004 it dropped to one, with 25% of of those surveyed saying that they have no one to confide in. This suggests that one in four people that we meet may have no one they call a close friend! This decline in social connectedness may explain reported increases in loneliness, isolation, and alienation and may be why studies are finding that loneliness represents one of the leading reasons people seek psychological therapy.
Here at Hope Street Cards, we’re totes on board with this year’s theme for Mental Health Month. To encourage us all to connect with others to continue our journey towards better mental health, we’ll be sharing ideas and insights around this theme all month on the blog. We’ve also got a couple of extra surprises coming your way to celebrate the wonder of social connectedness of us social creatures. Stay tuned …