The social connections we have can profoundly impact our mental health and well-being. Friendships that develop during childhood teach us how to interact with others, resolve conflict, compromise, and empathize with others- skills that will last a lifetime.

Healthy friendships encourage positive mental health no matter how old you are. Studies have shown that older adults who live a socially active life typically have higher feels of wellbeing later in life.

mental health

Mental health benefits of Friendship

Developing and maintaining friendships takes time and effort, but the psychological health benefits are well worth it. Close, healthy friendships can:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose

  • Reduce stress

  • Improve self-esteem and confidence

  • Help you cope with traumas

  • Give you a reality check when you need one.

  • Provide encourage

Knowing you have a strong support network can help you feel more secure- even if your friends are scattered over several cities, states, or countries. Staying connected through social media, video chats, and phone calls allows close friends to be there for each other no matter what time zone they’re in.

The difference between healthy and unhealthy friendships

When it comes to friendships, quality often counts more than quantity. While it’s great to have a vast network of connections and acquaintances, it’s important to focus on the friendships that are most meaningful and fulfilling for you.

Healthy friendships are built on mutual trust and respect, while unhealthy ones are often one-sided and damaged by toxic behavior.

It’s important to recognize the signs of an unhealthy friendship and know how to set boundaries. Some examples of unhealthy friendships include:

  • One person always gives a lot more than the other.

  • One person constantly ridiculing the other, gossiping, gaslighting, or spreading rumors,

  • One person feeling threatened when the other grows changes interests or spends time with other people

  • One person frequently feels emotionally drained.

  • One person constantly walking on eggshells because they’re afraid of how the other person will react

People in healthy friendships accept each other for who they are and respect differences, while unhealthy friendships demand conformity. Many times in unhealthy friendships, one person is taking advantage of the other to benefit themselves.

Should you call a friend or a therapist if you’re struggling?

When we’re hurting or in trouble, often the first instinct is to pick up the phone and call or text a close friend. But, while friendship can be a powerful means of support when you’re going through a hard time, it’s not a substitute for mental health treatment.

Your friends can be a great source of strength and encouragement, but if you’re experiencing severe mental health symptoms, there is a big difference between the support that a friend and a professional can give. Even if you’re not in crisis mode, talking to a therapist about issues you’re having with friendships can help you learn coping techniques and learn to set boundaries if needed.

If you’re struggling with symptoms that affect your ability to function, consider talking to a therapist. If you’re a close friend of someone who is, encourage them to seek help. Call Serene Health at 844-737-3638 or visit us at www.serenehealth.com to schedule an appointment.