Connect for mental wellbeing

What catalyzes people is emotional connection

When it comes to wellbeing, other people matter. Evidence shows that connecting with others and forming good relationships – with family, friends and the wider community – are important for mental wellbeing.

Building stronger, broader social connections in your life can increase your feelings of happiness and self-worth.

Many of us would like to spend more time with people who are important to us. Sometimes, having a busy life can make this difficult.

But evidence shows that our relationships affect both our physical health and mental wellbeing. Mental wellbeing means feeling good – about ourselves and the world around us – and functioning well.

Nurturing our relationships can help us feel happier and more secure, and can give us a greater sense of purpose. That makes investing in relationships one of the five evidence-based steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing. (Read more about the five steps to mental wellbeing.)

How relationships can help

Human beings are social animals, and our relationships and connections with other people matter to us.

Several studies suggest that good relationships are associated with positive mental wellbeing. For example, a 2002 study of two-hundred and twenty-two students in the USA found that the happiest among the group had stronger social relationships than those who were less happy.

Strong relationships with family and friends can 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, as well as the chance to support others.

Giving to others is also one of the five steps for wellbeing (Learn more about giving for mental wellbeing).

Relationships help build a sense of belonging and self-worth. There’s also evidence that wellbeing can be passed on through relationships, so that being around people with strong mental wellbeing can improve your own mental wellbeing.

Build relationships for wellbeing

Taking time to strengthen and broaden relationships is good for your wellbeing, and good for the wellbeing of the other people involved.

Building relationships for wellbeing means:

  • Strengthening your relationships with people who are close to you, such as family and friends.
  • Broadening your relationships in your community and the wider world.

There are many ways to build stronger and closer relationships:

  • Make time each day to spend with your family. This might include “family time” that is fixed each day, or time that you find around other commitments.
  • Arrange a day out with friends you haven’t seen for a while.
  • Switch off the TV tonight and play a game with your partner or children, or just talk.
  • 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. This is also a way of giving your time.
  • Research a “meetup” in your area that is relevant to your interests: Book clubs, walking groups, craft groups, men’s sheds and even simple social meet ups occur in most major towns.

5 steps to mental wellbeing

This page is part of a series called the 5 steps for mental wellbeing. There are other steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing. Check out the other pages in this series: