Our mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It can be influenced by variables such as our environment, our physical health, our socioeconomic situation, and more. One of the biggest factors that plays a role in shaping our mental health is our sense of community and connectedness.
The Dangers of Social Isolation
If the early lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that social isolation can be incredibly challenging for our mental health. If you were one of the people who felt anxious, stressed, sad, or lethargic during quarantine, you’re not alone. Research has shown that the connection between social isolation and mental health often manifests in higher rates of anxiety, depression, and even suicide.
Social isolation can also have major consequences for your physical health, too, and may even shorten your life. One study described the effects of lack of social connection as being comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
How Does Community Affect Mental Health?
Happily, the reverse is also true: the relationship between social connection and mental health can be a positive one, too. Having a strong sense of social connection (whether that’s through a large network of friends or close relationships with just a few people) has been associated with improved overall quality of life, more positive mental health outcomes, and better physical well-being. Being part of a community gives us a sense of belonging, support, and purpose, all of which are important for our mental health and well-being.
Your Mental Health Impacts Your Community
Just as your community can exert a big influence on your mental health, your mental health can also affect your community. After all, a community is only as strong as the individuals that comprise it, and when those individuals’ mental health needs aren’t being met, it becomes a public health issue. The impact of mental health on community may show up as higher rates of homelessness and poverty, reduced employment and safety, and ultimately, disruptions in the local economy, community culture, and individual households.
At RADIAS Health, we believe in the power of community mental health. RADIAS Health provides person-centered integrated healthcare services to people experiencing mental illness, substance use, or co-occurring disorders. Our behavioral health services are delivered by compassionate, skilled health care and support staff. In addition, our care includes supplementary services such as case management, supportive housing, homeless services, residential services, outpatient DBT treatment, and more. If you or someone you know could benefit from our mission, contact us today or consider donating!