The Importance of Relationships…
By Hannah Radbourne
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this year the Mental Health Foundation is basing its awareness around the theme of Relationships. Human beings are social animals, and therefore we rely on each other for social nourishment. Relationships build a sense of belonging and self-worth, and so building stronger, wider social connections can help us feel happier and more secure, and give us a greater sense of purpose.
Healthy and supportive relationships reduce the risk of mental ill-health. This year, we are celebrating the connections, the relationships, the people in our lives that add to our wellbeing and protect and sustain our mental health. From family and friends, to colleagues and neighbours; taking notice of those connections that make you feel safe and supported.
More than healthy diet or exercise, strong social networks improve our mental wellbeing. This month is all about about recognising this, and then thanking the people that support you, and reaching out to those who you can listen to and help. Strong relationships with family and friends allow us to share our feelings and know that we are understood. They provide an opportunity to share positive experiences, and can give us emotional support. They also give us a chance to support others – something else that is known to promote mental wellbeing. There’s also evidence that wellbeing can be passed on through relationships. Being around people with strong mental wellbeing can improve your own mental wellbeing.
There are lots of ways to build stronger and closer relationships:
• If possible, take time each day to be with your family. This could include a fixed “family time” each day.
• Arrange a day out with friends you haven’t seen for a while.
• Switch off the TV and play a game with the children, or just talk.
• Make the effort to phone people sometimes – it’s all too easy get into the habit of only ever texting, messaging or emailing people.
• Speak to someone new today.
• Have lunch with a colleague.
• Visit a friend or family member who needs support or company
• Volunteer at a local school, hospital or community group.
• Make the most of technology – video chat apps like Skype and FaceTime are a great way of staying in touch with friends and family, particularly if you live far apart.
Show your support for Mental Health by wearing a Green Ribbon for Mental Awareness Month.