The Benefits of a Tight Knit Community
In the chaos of modern life, community support can be very helpful for mental health. Though it may seem easier to just curl up at home every night after work in the effort to ‘relax’ the body and mind, it is far better to use that time by engaging with your surrounding communities, regardless of whether you are introverted or extroverted.
It is because humans, by nature, are engineered to desire the sense of belonging and acceptance by other people. The effects are physically apparent, as demonstrated in a study on a group of women in Japan, who experience higher levels of oxytocin secretion when they were involved in community organizations, where oxytocin is considered as one of the ‘happy’ hormones in humans. Moreover, suicide rates are also shown to be decreased in communities with good social organizations. This is significant considering that suicide is one of the leading consequences of mental health deterioration, with almost 1 million cases worldwide per year. From the public health perspective, the health status achievement of community members in a given area is directly proportional to the stocks of social capital within them. Social capital is defined by the features that come from healthy social relationships, such as interpersonal trust, and the norms of reciprocity and mutual aid. The phenomenon was sustained even after accounting for differences between localities, suggesting that social capital, as a result of healthy relationships within communities, can help reduce socioeconomic disparities in health. Being involved in various communities is also vital to develop skills and resources that are useful for education and employment, which in turn affect your career and financial wellbeing. A functional community embraces interdependency and can thus help to hone different sets of skills in different people. A community soup kitchen, for example, will require a wide range of skills and resources such as management and logistics, cooking skills, and public relations to ensure productivity, aside from opening your eyes to empathy and the need of others.