Weaving a Web – The Importance of Community for Mental Wellbeing
Last week was National Mental Health Awareness Week in the United Kingdom (UK). While I was browsing online one day a video came up in my newsfeed from The Mental Health Foundation, which I urge you to watch (click the link here). I was surprised when I watched the video as I thought it might contain the same type of information that we are used to hearing to improve our mental wellbeing; eat a good diet, exercise regularly, get out and about, take medication if needed and use therapies such as talking therapies. While this is all great advice, I was pleased to see that the video took a different approach; to talk about the importance of community for our mental health.
Whether you are suffering with a mental health issue or not, having good relationships with those around us is vital for our wellbeing, but we often underestimate the importance of community. And having a sense of community is becoming more and more rare, with people feeling more isolated than ever before. I saw first-hand from my nurse training that many older people are dreadfully isolated, and rarely have contact with other people. People are living farther away from their families and have busy lives and so do not invest in their local community.
Depression and anxiety often leads us to isolate ourselves from others and avoid contact, this leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation and can make the depression worse. Then if you don’t feel like talking to anyone you cut yourself off more and more, and people may avoid you if they think you don’t want to connect with them. So begins a downward spiral which feeds the depression and negative thinking patterns. As the saying goes, “no man is an island”, and that is so true in this case.
I know from my own experience how important it is to me to have a good community of people; living in a marina with other boaters provides the opportunity for day-to-day contact with like-minded people, as well as lots of social gatherings! I have been lucky enough to also find this sense of community in my work, at the Bridge Centre for Natural Health and the Natural Healthcare Centre, both of which have provided me with a group of therapists who can nurture and support each other. That nurturing support has helped me to take care of my own mental wellbeing and continues to support me to do so.
So, I urge you to make a new connection today, whether it’s just talking to the lady at the bus stop or chatting to the man behind the counter at your local shop.
I’d love it if you would like to connect with me on Facebook (click here) and I’d love to hear stories of what you like to do out and about in your community.
Hoping to connect with you,
Written for Mental Health Awareness Week (16th-22nd May). If you are suffering with a mental health issue and are in crisis please see your doctor as soon as possible or phone Samaritans on 116 123. For help and support using complementary therapies or to book a session of acupuncture or Chinese Herbal Medicine with Louise please phone 01283 516444 (Natural Healthcare Centre, Burton-on-Trent) or 01332 521270 (Bridge Centre for Natural Health, Derby).
Mental Health Foundation (2016) Mental Health Awareness Week. Website available here.
To watch the Mental Health Foundation’s video on community click here.
Samaritans phone 116 123 or visit the website here.