By Lindsay Woodward, Service Director
If we didn't know it before, one thing the pandemic and lockdowns have shown us is how important social connection is for our mental health and wellbeing. Much of what we took for granted - office kitchen discussions, daily seeing school friends, popping round to see your Gran whenever you liked - has had to stop or has been made more risky or difficult for large parts of the past year. But why is social connection so important to us as a species?
Human beings are inherently social creatures. As far back as we can trace, humans have travelled, hunted, and thrived in social groups and for good reason. Humans who were separated from their tribe often suffered severe consequences. Social groups provide us with an important part of our identity, and more than that, they teach us a set of skills that help us to live our lives. Social connection is essential to nearly every aspect of health and well-being. Lack of connection, or loneliness, has been linked to inflammation, accelerated aging and cardiovascular health risk, suicide, and all-cause mortality.
Despite us knowing how good social connection is for us, when we think of getting help and support with mental or physical health we tend to think of that being a 121 activity - you and a health professional working things out together as expert and patient. Quite rightly for physical health problems this probably needs to be the case in many circumstances. But when we think about how to get help with our mental health and well-being it is a great time to think differently - if social connections help keep us well it stands to reason they can also help make us better.
Much of our work at CFF is in groups for this very reason. And although it can feel daunting that first time you log into a group zoom call or turn up to a face to face group, we are 'following the science' of social learning theory! At CFF we have always placed a lot of importance on 'engagement' - getting to know you, relationship building and connection making - because we know it helps people to feel safe when they are talking to our team, increases attendance and participation in groups and helps people to make peer to peer connections during the sessions. So, if you do need some support but you aren't sure about coming to a group, remember the health benefits of social connection and that our team are here to make you feel safe and comfortable.