Loneliness, Friendships and Mental Health


As adults we have childhood friends, high school friends, and friends we met when we lived in City X, but, sometimes we don’t have “right now” friends.  Research shows that friends are important to our physical and mental health.  "... people who do not have strong support from friends and family live shorter lives and suffer more from stress," says Cheryl A. Richey, Ph.D., professor of social work at the University of Washington.  "Support from friends can give people the strength to make positive changes in their lives, like staying away from drugs or leaving an abusive relationship." 
Start with an expectation. Expect to have many friends because you are worth it.  Some people like to have more friends than others, so the number is really up to what you need, but a good goal for most people is to have five close friends.  Okay, so where do you start?  If you are looking to add friends to your support network, try one of these:

  • Look for ways to get involved with people while you go about your regular daily routine.
  • Put yourself in new situations where you will meet people. Engage in activities in which you have genuine interest where you are likely to meet people with shared interests.
If you are looking to strengthen the friendships you currently have, here are some things to remember:
  •  Be more reliable, responsible and reciprocal in your daily associations with people.
  • Personal boundaries are important!  This may include keeping some on an acquaintance level rather than pursuing close friendships.
  • It isn’t the number of friends you have that is important, it is the quality of the friendships you have.
Remember the saying: “To have friends you need to be a friend.”