Community and Mental Health

Two women enjoying al fresco dining together

We have known for centuries that having a community can help us feel supported and connected with others. Whether it be a mother's group, a sports team, a place of worship or a small village - community helps us to work together, look after each other, and keep us busy.

Conversely, a lack of community can trigger loneliness, low mood and a lack of a sense of purpose. Ample research shows that socially isolated people are more prone to depression, anxiety, obesity, low self esteem and even diseases like dementia. There's even a theory that a lack of community and human connection is the primary cause of addiction.

By actively engaging in a community, no matter how big or small, you not only enjoy some of the social benefits of getting out of the house, but improve your health and wellbeing too - including your mental health.

Why are we in a mental health crisis?

Over the last decade, there has been a substantial increase in the number of adolescents and adults seeking help with mental health problems. So, why the rise? There could be many reasons:

1) Technology. Our younger generations are now growing up in a minefield of unregulated, uncontrolled content - much of which can be harmful to their minds. One third of young women aged 16-24 are now experiencing an anxiety disorder. Saying that, technology isn't all bad. Many people are finding online supportive communities to fit with their interests, hobbies and lifestyle, and many people with mental health problems find technology incredibly useful for seeking support.
2) Cost of living / economic problems. It's harder and harder to buy a house, start a business, or save for a decent pension. This can cause great anxiety, a sense of failure and similar mental health problems.
3) Lack of human connection. Many people (especially older people) are finding that an increased use of technology, automated services, self checkouts, web chats and remote working can cause us to lose our human touch. As social creatures, we enjoy interaction and friendship, and this can be harder with much of our everyday lives migrating online.

There are, of course, a huge number of potential reasons we are experiencing greater mental health problems as a nation - these are just a few examples. But one way to help minimise the risk of feeling unwell is to form a community.

Community Matters

People living in areas with higher levels of social cohesion experience lower rates of mental health problems. Similarly, depressive symptoms in older people occur less frequently amongst those who live in tight knit communities. Why is this? Many reasons!

1) You can lean on your community for support. If you are feeling frightened, anxious, or even excited and happy, you can share this with those around you. You will feel held and heard by others, and you can also do the same for them.
2) Your community can look out for you. Let's say you're suddenly not doing so well, or you've had a serious life event. Your community can spot any changes or abnormalities and reach out to you without you even asking.
3) Friendships evoke laughter. Laughing is good for our physical and mental wellbeing.
4) A community can help you to meet likeminded people. Let's say you're crazy about Star Trek but don't know anyone else who is - an online community can help you to build connections with people who have similar interests.
5) You can feel part of a greater cause. Joining a protest, campaigning for a community initiative, forming an alliance with other parents, joining the PTA - whatever it is, you will feel like you are making a difference to the world around you - quite a boost for self esteem!

Retreats for Building Community

Retreats and workshops can be a fantastic way to build a community with others. All you need is a common interest, or purpose for being there.
For example, you might attend a single mum's retreat and meet likeminded single mothers. You might attend a yoga retreat and meet other yoga enthusiasts. Retreats allow you to meet new friends and experience your shared passions and interests together.

At High Trenhouse, we have two retreats coming up which we feel are perfect for those seeking a community and improving their health and wellbeing, including their mental health.

The first is our Menopause Retreat.

A menopause retreat serves many purposes.

1) You can meet likeminded women who are experiencing similar symptoms to you.
2) You can explore your complex feelings in a safe space with non-judgemental listeners.
3) You can gain a scientific education on menopause.
4) You can gain insights, hacks and tips on dealing with menopause symptoms.
5) You can get away from everyday life and immerse yourself in a quiet and relaxing space to pay attention to this issue properly.

The second is our Exploring The World of Drag Retreat.

This retreat is designed for you to experiment with Drag in a safe, fun way. It is led by experts (we have Peggy Eighteen, May Hemme and Bernie de Bra at your service) so you can pick their brains for the best ways to present yourself confidently as a Drag queen.
You can also meet fellow Queens and form a community! This is a big and important part of being a Drag Queen - knowing others within the space and forming lifelong friendships.
At the retreat you will learn makeup techniques, wig dressing, persona development and much, much more.

Are you ready to find a new community and invest in your physical and mental wellbeing? Get in touch to find out more about our retreats at High Trenhouse. Email [email protected].

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