Social Connectedness: How a group of strangers became the best of friends
At the end of June 2013, 15 strangers had the opportunity to attend the NAMI National Convention on scholarship to participate in the young adult convention track. Over the course of convention, these individuals formed fast and meaningful social connections that have lasted beyond their stay in San Antonio. They have stayed in touch, not only keeping up with one another’s lives, but also offering the social support that is imperative in coping with a mental health condition. Their experience at convention and afterward is a prime example of the significant impact social connectedness has on mental health.
In this digital age, individuals are afforded more resources than ever before to create social connections. From message boards to video chatting, it has never been easier for young adults with mental health conditions to connect over shared experiences. These 15 scholarship recipients have utilized social media to preserve connections they made with individuals they had only known for four days. Through the creation of a “NAMI Convention 2013 Young Adult” Facebook group, these youth have been able to keep in touch with their new friends. The group is an example of one of the many positive forms of social support that are particularly helpful in coping with mental illness.
The individuals who participate in this group will be the first to tell you how valuable the friendships they formed are and how helpful their social interactions have become in coping with a mental health condition. These interactions have taught them one main theme: you are not alone. For individuals with mental health conditions, this reminder can be invaluable. On the Facebook group, members share personal updates, but they also post inspirational quotations and mental health articles concerning topics like stigma and recovery. These 15 friends post when they are feeling down and need support or when they’re feeling well and want to spread positivity. And when one of their new friends is going through a hard time, they all come together to share the resources they’ve found, to spread tips for turning negativity in to positivity or, most importantly, to share similar experiences they have had to reassure their friend that he or she is never alone.
In a world so busy, it’s easy to forget to make time to create social connections. However, these connections are the glue that holds us together through our most difficult times, and these 15 remarkable individuals are a wonderful reminder that you can make valuable connections in the smallest amounts of time. These young adults remind us of the simple significance of reaching out to a new friend or catching up with an old one. The effects it can have on your life, mental health and otherwise, can be life-changing.
By: Chaffee Duckers