On these pages we will add statistics and facts from the great and the good, some of these facts will help, some may merely help you to better understand the enormity of the problem we are all facing - But we hope it will show you that we are not alone. Join us today and learn to find comfort and hopefully happiness and or piece of mind that together we can help each other grow.
It's well established that people who feel socially isolated, or as though they don't belong, have worse mental health than those who feel socially connected. But in a study recently published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, we've shown that increasing your level of social connection can protect your future mental health.
Previous research has found 'social connectedness' is at least as good for your health as quitting smoking or exercise. It aids recovery from mental illness, provides resilience for stressful life events and transitions. So what is social connectedness, and how can we get more of it?
What is social connectedness?
Social connectedness isn't about being popular. or having lots of friends. Although it can come from personal relationships you have with other individuals, research finds it's belonging to groups that's most important to your health.
When we feel we truly belong to a group we benefit from both the bonds we share with other group members, and how belonging to that group tells us something about who we are.
Social connectedness is crucial to physical and mental health. A 2010 review of 148 studies found that people who felt less socially connected had more risk of early death than those who smoked, drank or were obese.
Therapeutic programs that focus on building social connectedness are effective in treating depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. But improving someone's social connectedness can also suport and protect the health of people in their everyday lives.
For example, people who make new social group connections are less likely to develop depression. And people who maintain and build their social group connections have a greater well-being during the transition to retirement or university.
Social connectedness has also been positively associated with mental health in large population-based studies of Australia, British and American adults.
What our study means
Our latest study investigated the link between social connectedness and mental health in 25,000 New Zealand adults over four years using the longitudinal New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS). We asked people about their personal feelings of belonging with others in their community and found when a person's level of social connection goes down, they experience worse mental health a year later. The relationship also went the other way: people with good mental health were more socially connected a year later. But, importantly, the influence of social connectedness on mental health over time was about three times stronger than the other way round.
Despite all this knowledge, there's been little change in health care, public policy, or individual behaviour. Government health departments specifically recommend healthy eating, exercise and quitting smoking to improve health, yet tend to omit any mention of social connection. One reason might be that it's unclear how social connection works to promote health, compared to other factors like smoking.
Social connectedness can act as a resource by providing a sense of shared meaning. The best way to understand this measure is to see it as a psychological resource. Just like money in the bank means you can absorb financial shocks, a broad network of social group members means you can better navigate the physical and mental stresses of life.
Social connectedness can act as a resource by providing a sense of shared meaning and purpose. Weeding a community garden each Saturday is about more than earning your share of the zucchinis, for instance. It's also about recognising the garden cannot flourish without the efforts of many people, and taking part in something larger than yourself. Having an important role in the garden's success means that the group's purpose becomes your purpose. Another way being socially connected is like a resource is it provides access to material and emotional support which helps during stressful events and difficult life transitions. If one member of a group is in grief, others may step in to provide food, or help the grieving member speak about their feelings. Such expression of other group members' commitment reinforces the feelings of belonging and the security that the grieving person finds in their group.
How to improve social connectedness
How can we harness the power of social connection to improve our health and the health of our communities? Remember that social connectedness is more than mere contact with other people, or even merely being a member of social groups. It is about feeling that you belong to that group; that you trust others and they trust you in a shared purpose, and that group members can rely on each other.
At a personal level, you could take stock of your existing relationships and group memberships, and make a change if these relationships are not trusting, mutually supportive, or have a shared meaning or purpose.
At a community level, you could join or lead initiatives that will build trust and psychlogical bonds between community members. Local fetes and festivals are popular, but one-off events are not by themselves sufficient to promote social connectedness. But these events could be a starting point for community members to discover and join ongoing, supportive social groups with their own shared purpose.
This might include finding a shared purpose for existing social groups, such as the 'men's sheds' movement, which sets up places for men to come together and work on meaningful projects in the company of other men. Or it could include joining new groups like the popular parkrun held weekly in public parks across Australia, which brings together the dual benefits of social connection and exercise.
March 2018 Women very rarely think about themselves first. If its not the partner, its the children or the parents or work.
There are a number of social and economic factors that can put women at a greater risk of poor mental health compared with men. However, is it believed that women are far more likely to talk about what they are going through and seek support through their social networks to help with their mental health. (source = NHS England)
Women-Like-Me aims to provide a safe and welcoming community of Women, to support each other. Learning new things Growing into ourselves and Laughing along that journey
Social and economic factors
The role and status women hold in society will typically have an effect on their mental health. Some of the more traditional roles women have in ethnic societies in the United Kingdom can increase the likelihood of these effects.
Some of the social factors that can affect women's mental health include:
- Women are typically more likely to care for their children or other relatives than men. This can have an adverse effect on their physical and emotional health, finances and social life.
- Women may juggle a number of roles within a family - they could be a partner, carer and mother as well as running the household and holding down a job.
- Women are more likely to live in poverty in comparison to men. They are also over represented in low status, low income jobs that are often taken on part-time.
- Concerns about their own safety, working at home primarily on housework and poverty can all make women feel isolated.
- Sexual and physical abuse can have a devastating impact on their mental health - this is especially true if no help is sought.
When women internalise their difficulties, it has the potential to lead to problems such as eating disorders and depression. They may express their emotional pain through self-harm, where research suggests men tend to act out through violence towards others.
We want to reach out to all Women to help in a safe + friendly environment to help all Women Like Me members feel better equipped and supported to live full and enriched lives and to help address the increase of Mental Health illness that's around us all. We will work on positive outcomes - we will celebrate all successes and failures because we will learn laugh and grow together.
In England, women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem (19.7% and 12.5% respectively). This is higher across all categories of common mental health problems, apart from panic and obsessive compulsive disorder
Adult mental health
Within the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC’s) 2016 European evidence briefing, it was highlighted that adults and those in midlife are often ignored and overlooked within mental health policy and research work. This section highlights the key statistics related to adult mental health, including how the workplace can impact on mental wellbeing, and the impact of relationships developing during this time of life.
Employment and mental health
Throughout our adult life, the majority of us will be in work and will experience a range of changing mental health states, from poor to good mental health across our working life.
• 64% of people with common mental health problems are employed; therefore, in the UK, there is an estimated 4.6 million people in work who may have a common mental health problem. That equates to 1 in 6.8 employed people experiencing mental health problems in the workplace.
• A 2008 review commissioned for the Health, Work and Wellbeing Programme highlighted that symptoms associated with mental health problems (e.g. sleep problems, fatigue, irritability and worry) affect one sixth of the working-age population of Great Britain at any one time and can impair a person’s ability to function at work.
• Women in full-time employment were twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men (19.8% vs 10.9% respectively).
• Evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
• Workers with sickness absence due to mental ill health are seven times more likely to have further absence than those with physical health related sick leave.
• A 2014 study revealed that one in five of those who disclosed that they had a mental health problem to their employers felt that they had been sacked or forced out of their jobs as a result.
• Being happily married or in a stable relationship is linked to both physical and mental health benefits, including lower morbidity and mortality. People in a stable relationship have greater life satisfaction, lower stress levels, lower blood pressure and better heart health than individuals who are single.
• In 2015, more than 9 in 10 adults aged 16 and over in the UK reported that they had one or more close friends whom they could confide in (93%), who supported them (92%) or who they could escape or have fun with (90%).
• Overall, social networks tend to decrease during adulthood; adults have been reported to spend as little as 10% of their time with friends.176
• Findings by Relate in 2014 show that more men report having no friends (11%) compared to women (7%), with men having lower satisfaction in their friends than women (73% of men rated their friendships as good or very good, compared to 81% of women).
• Those in full-time work in the UK spend more time with colleagues than with family or friends. The 2014 Relate report highlighted that employees were about as likely to have daily contact with work colleagues (62%) as they were with their own children (64%), and over 4 in 10 (44%) were more likely to have daily contact with their bosses than with their mothers (26%) or friends (16%).
Source - Fundamental Facts about mental health 2016 /Mental Health Foundation -