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New Zealand case study shows mental wellbeing benefits from social engagement

Strong social connectedness is proven to positively impact a person’s health and well-being, while weaker social connectedness often leads to negative mental health issues such as depression. A team of researchers in New Zealand sought to determine whether the converse relationship is accurate, testing whether mental health and wellbeing is a strong determinant of social connectedness. Their results concluded that the influence of social connectedness on mental health is stronger than the reverse relationship. 

A sample population of New Zealanders were evaluated on their social connectedness and mental health to determine the significance of the relationships between these factors. Both categories were measured through subjective, self-reported answers to researched screening questions. Concern regarding the subjectivity of these results was combated with the idea that one’s understanding of their experience effects their health to a greater degree than a measured interpretation of their experience. For instance, a person’s subjective disconnect from others impacts their mental state more severely than the actual number of people with whom they interact daily. 

The results of this study emphasizing the importance of social connectedness on mental health highlights the valuable impact of intervening to increase social connectedness for mental health improvement. When people are engaged with others in their existing groups and seeking to build new connections, their mental well-being will likely benefit from these relationships. 

Learn more about this study by visiting the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

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