The impact of community building on mental health can not be underestimated. In fact, a recent study showed that people in neighbourhoods with higher levels of social cohesion experienced lower rates of mental health issues.
When you consider that 1 in 6 people in the U.K are currently experiencing symptoms of depression, and over 8 million people in the U.K are currently experiencing symptoms of anxiety, then it’s easy to see that when it comes to mental health, most of us have been affected in some form or another.
We can each be doing our bit to help those facing the challenges of mental health, however, and help can start on our doorstep… (more about that later)
In the meantime, let’s talk about mental health, and how when we contribute to a strong and stable community, we are (unknowingly) contributing to the mental wellbeing of our neighbours.
Being part of a thriving community is essential when it comes to maintaining a healthy mind. Why? Because communities can make us feel valued and appreciated. When we feel valued and appreciated by others, we tend to value and appreciate ourselves more. By successfully contributing to the greater good of your neighbourhood, you become an essential cog in a wheel. Not only do your contributions help others, but you help to boost your own self worth and confidence too. This is something that is at the heart of the Sharing Economy…
The Sharing Economy is a socio-economic system that nurtures the knowledge, abilities and skills of people, in order to cut costs, to promote sustainability, to bolster efficiency, and to bring communities closer together. Examples of the Sharing Economy include shared workspaces, pet-sitting, crowdfunding, and shared car journeys.
According to sources, 62% of the UK population has contributed to the Sharing Economy in some form or another.
To put it simply; everyone! Let’s take these two case studies as examples:
Callum is 10 years old. Along with his family, he had recently moved to a new area in South London, meaning that he had to change schools.
At first, Callum struggled to make new friends in his new school, and he became shy and reserved. Then one Sunday morning, Callum spotted some children around his age playing football in his local park. It was organised by a volunteer group of adults who wanted to give back to their community. Callum plucked up the courage and asked if he could join the team, and before he knew it, he had made lots of new friends in the team, (all of whom attended his school) and his confidence went from strength to strength.
Janet’s husband, Jeff, passed away last year after a short illness, after 52 years of dedicated marriage. Understandably, Janet had spent the past 12 months largely feeling lost and rather alone. One of her neighbours, Anne, dropped by and told her about a new book they had started. The premise was that the group would all read the same book over the course of two weeks, and then they would meet up once every two Saturday’s and discuss the book in great detail over coffee and cake round Anne’s house. Suddenly, Janet had a new lease of life as she got to chat and socialise with a group of new people every couple of weeks. Her loneliness decreased and she
These are just two examples, but the point is that anyone, no matter what age, can benefit from community building!
With the Cost of Living crisis showing no signs of slowing down, food banks have been on the rise. As of 2023, there are 1646 food distribution centres in the UK, so volunteers are needed now more than ever. By volunteering at a food bank, you’ll be getting right to the heart of what your community values should be about: support, care, and building connections.
Know an area in your community that needs some improvement such as a disused patch of land or a rundown playground? Join your local planning committee where you’ll meet lots of new and interesting people and together, you can work to make a real difference in your neighbourhood!
Youth centres give young people a chance to learn and develop skills as well as connecting and making friends with people in their area. It’s a safe place for children and young adults to become active and to foster a sense of self respect and belief in themselves. As well making a huge difference in the lives of young people, you’ll also be be building your own self esteem, confidence and leadership skills.
When you start a club in your local area, you not only bring people with similar interests together, but you also relieve loneliness by helping people to forge new relationships. From film clubs to resturant critic clubs to book clubs and sports clubs - the possibilities are endless.
Why not simply organise a monthly night/day out just for fun? You can create a post with all the details of your outing and post it on the Hikinjo wall, inviting others from your local area to join!
Community building is a prime factor in the contribution of a healthy mindset and in the overral upkeep of mental wellbeing. Investing time into your community makes you feel valued and appreciated too, so it’s a win-win practice. Be it starting book club, volunteering for a youth sports team, or simply saying hi to neighbours you see in the street - you could cahnge somebody’s life for the better.
Hikinjo connects communities together through promoting the sharing economy. Download the Hikinjo app today and make the most out of your community.
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