Community: 5 benefits and how to find yoursPosted on 08/15/23 05:13:pm
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Authored by Deanna Kolas, EdS, LPCC, lead therapist, Rogers in Minneapolis
What is a community?
A community is a group of people with shared interests or values. It’s a group in which people can receive support, engage socially, foster connection, and live out their values. A community can be a place where people feel they belong, are accepted, and are cared for.
What are benefits of belonging to a community?
Five benefits come to mind.
- Community can reverse patterns associated with mental health struggles. People who struggle experience decreased motivation to engage in community, which may lead to a downward spiral: people feel depressed, so they don’t engage socially, which makes them feel lonely, which then contributes further to depression. Engaging with a community can help reverse that cycle and help improve mood.
- Communities help people feel less alone. Everyone experiences loneliness, and community may help people cope, feel a sense of connection, and have people they can reach out to for support.
- Belonging to a community can help shift unhelpful beliefs about oneself and provide a sense of purpose. Many people struggling with mental health may also experience a sense of low self-worth. Engaging with community and fostering relationships can help people shift those unhelpful beliefs and learn healthier patterns of relating to themselves and others. Community may help people realize their worth and that they are needed and valued by others.
- Communities increase a person’s ability to receive support.
- Communities provide for accountability for activities which promote mental health.
How can a person find a community?
People may begin finding community by self-reflecting and identifying their interests and values, then they can search for organizations or groups that could help them engage in those interests and values. There are meet up apps, community websites, and social media platforms that may allow people to find a book club, sporting class, or group that gets together to engage in a hobby. People can sign up for local news or announcements to learn if there are community events through the city or a school. Helping others can also feel good and foster a sense of purpose. People may consider seeing what needs exist in the community that could be met through volunteering with others. It can take time to develop close relationships and community, so it can be helpful to build trust slowly and patiently. Building community can be challenging, and it can be helpful and rewarding.
What are communities for people impacted by mental health?
There are communities available for people struggling with mental health challenges and their loved ones. For example, the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) offers support groups, educational resources, and events such as annual walks to support mental health. The International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) offers virtual communities and events. Rogers also has support groups available.