Community Involvement and Its Benefits

You may wonder, are there benefits in being a part of a community? The answer is yes! Building community relationships is an excellent way to improve mental health. Communities can be built out of any common interest or experience, and they have the potential to positively influence your behaviour and your habit formation journey! Plus, they can be held online over social media platforms. Communities don’t even have to be structured or interest-centric. All it takes is a person to talk to! Your family, classmates, anyone! 

Having an accepting community is essential to anyone’s wellbeing because they provide support, a feeling of belonging, and a sense of duty and purpose. Luckily, people are all around us to form these essential connections with. 

According to Pamela Hull’s study in 2008, social development and stress process theory are evidence that community involvement has a protective effect on the mental health of adolescents.  The study illustrated that those who participated in local clubs and sports had an improved wellbeing.  However, the key condition is that the environment is empathetic, non-judgmental, and engaging (Fieldhouse, 2012).   

It is especially advisable to avoid communities that spread misconceptions about mental illness, which only lead to self-doubt, shame, and hesitation (Gouvernement du Quebec, 2018). 

On the other hand, positive community behavior has a powerful influence on the actions of the individual.  Take for example, exercise.  Fellow participants join in and feel more encouraged to work out when they’re out for yoga with friends than when they’re alone (Plante, 2010).  Additionally, in a somewhat unexplained manner, people with weight goals slim down the longer they hang out with their fit friends (Andersson, 2016).  Clearly, for one reason or another, physical fitness is strongly affected by your social activities.  And there is certainly no doubt about the positive mental effects that a healthy body provides.  

But it doesn’t stop there! Consider all the other habits that you want to solidify: reading, cutting down on your TV time, your productivity. There’s book clubs, phones-off clubs, and study halls that you can attend! Think of all the great habits that you can form, and that you have formed from attending class.  How much more do you think you have read?  How much more do you think you have learned, thanks to your teachers facilitating a great environment? There are communities all around us that could help each of our concerns, and we aren’t even aware of them. So go!  Go and discover the world of positive change that’s right in front of you. You certainly won’t regret it. 

To learn more about community involvement, mental health, and habit formation check out:

Hull, P et al. – Community involvement and adolescent mental health: moderating effect of race ethnic and neighbourhood
Fieldhouse, J – Community participation and recovery for mental health service users: an action research inquiry.
Plante, T et al. – Effects of Perceived Fitness Level of Exercise Partner on Intensity of Exertion

Andersson, M. A., & Christakis, N. A. – Desire for weight loss, weight-related social contact, and body mass outcomes

Author: Zac Lo
Editor: Cathy Xie
Researcher: Anosha Subramaniam