Ask anyone to tell you what community is and you will get a lot of different answers. Community means many things to many people and one definition is no better than the other. When we think about community, we usually think of the people who surround us in our everyday life and in the many spaces we occupy (our neighborhoods, our schools, work, etc.). No matter how we define community, one thing is certain: community matters!
When it comes to our wellness, community can have both a positive and negative influence. For example, if our community of friends tells us that our anxiety is not real or that we are overthinking things that are small, it can prevent us from seeking the real support we need to cope and deal with what is at the root of our anxiety. When our communities are supportive, uplifting and encourage us, we are more able to take care of our well-being.
It is important to know that not only does community mean different things, but we can also experience the same community in different ways. Someone who may be thriving in their school community may have a different outlook on school than someone who does not feel safe or supported. This means it is important to check up on those around us in our shared communities.
We have the power to step into our various communities and combat the stigma attached to our mental wellness. This could mean hosting a mental health awareness day in our church or school or participating in online social groups like Hey, I’m Here. One of the biggest things we can do is begin talking about mental wellness issues with those around us. Starting the conversation is the hard part, but it can make all the difference.