We say we’re fine, even when the truth is we’re ecstatic, exhausted, grateful. Or even freaking out. Every time we just go through the motions, we miss out on the chance to connect for real. In times of crisis we need each other more than ever.
Connecting doesn’t just feel good— it’s good for our mental health.
This year, the theme is ‘social connection’ and its importance for mental health. The campaign this year calls for us to #GetReal about how we really feel. This year’s campaign is based on the insight that people in Canada commonly ask one another how we are but that it is also common not to provide – or expect – a truthful answer.
Many of us say we’re fine, even when we don’t mean it. ‘Fine’ keeps us at arm’s length from real social connections with others. Every time we just go through the motions, we miss a chance to connect with others in a meaningful way. Each year, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness or mental health issue, but 5 in 5 Canadians has mental health—we all need social connection.
Even before there was COVID-19, loneliness and social isolation were already of major concern in our society.
To #GetReal for Mental Health Awareness Week, Hull Services’ Dr. Emily Wang, sits down with Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D, for an in-depth discussion on the human need for emotional closeness during a time of isolation and physical distancing, and how the decisions we make at this time will impact our society both in the short term as well as the long term.
Social inclusion and social integration have been identified by the WHO and the UN as important protective factors for good mental health. By providing emotional support, companionship and opportunities for meaningful social engagement, social networks have an influence on self-esteem, coping effectiveness, depression, distress and sense of well-being (Berkman & Glass, 2000).
Social networks and social ties have a beneficial effect on mental health outcomes, including stress reactions, psychological well-being and symptoms of psychological distress including depression and anxiety (Kawachi & Berkman 2001).
Studies show that having social connections and being civically engaged are associated with positive mental and physical health and well-being. (https://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Social-Inclusion-Report.pdf)
Research has shown that even having one good friend can save children from being lonely. (https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/loneliness-what-it-is-how-it-makes-you-sick-and-how-tocure-it-20170621-gwvikj.html)