Supporting Mental Wellness Together: The Role of Occupational Therapists in Fostering Community Connection
Written by Marli Groenveld Occupational therapists (OTs) provide a unique perspective within the field of…
In recent years, the importance of social connection has been highlighted through research that explored the impact of loneliness and isolation.
Loneliness isn’t just about not being alone – it’s about the feeling of being alone. You could still have a lot of social contact with those around you, but you don’t feel understood or seen. Social isolation is different to this. It’s a lack of social connections entirely. Nonetheless, both loneliness and social isolation have significant health outcomes.
Some of the recent research demonstrates that social isolation increases a person’s risk of premature death from all causes. When social isolation is compared with other life-limiting risk factors, such as smoking, it’s on par with the impact it can have on a person’s length and quality of life.
If you have ever experienced loneliness or social isolation, you probably already know and have felt its impact on not only your physical health but also your mental health.
A big part of our role as occupational therapists is to explore a person’s social network and if they are experiencing loneliness and isolation, we work with them to build up those supports and explore what the barriers are to connection. Sometimes a person might be unsure how to connect with others, or they may have beliefs about themselves that prevent them talking to others. Thoughts such as “No-one cares what I think”, or “I’ll say something stupid”. Sometimes, it’s that a person might not know where to even start.
If you are looking to expand your social network and connect with others but you just don’t know where to start, here’s some ideas:
If that sounds too overwhelming for you and you don’t feel ready, that’s OK. You can get in touch with us here at LifeWorks OT to get support from one of our experienced occupational therapists.