Social connection

Risk-taking behaviours and normal characteristics of boys and men that can have positive or negative effects on health, growth, and development.

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Feeling connected to other people is important for our health and well-being, so it’s important to make time for family and friends.

What is social connection?

Social connection is a feeling of being close and connected to other people, like family, friends, work colleagues, teammates, and community groups. Social connection provides a sense of inclusion, acceptance, security, and being valued by others.

Social connection fulfils the basic human need to belong to a group or community.

About 4% of Australian men have no close friends or relatives, around half have between five and 15, and some men have hundreds.

Social connection is not just about having lots of friends or knowing a lot of people. It’s possible to have a large social network but still feel disconnected from others, but having a larger social network (i.e. more people that you have meaningful relationships with) makes it more likely that you’ll feel more connected (and less lonely).

What does social connection mean for my health?

People with strong social connections tend to be healthier and live longer than people with smaller social networks or who feel like they don’t have a lot of social connections. This could be for lots of different reasons. Social connection might affect our health behaviours (including risk factors for disease, like smoking and poor diet, or the likelihood of going to the doctor if we feel unwell), reduce stress, and have beneficial effects on how our bodies function (e.g. improving sleep and immune function).

The relationship between health and social connection goes both ways. People with disabilities or long-term health problems tend to have less social connection.

The effect of social isolation (the opposite of social connection) on the risk of early death may be as strong or stronger than the influence of things like smoking, obesity, or not doing enough physical activity.

What does social connection mean for my health?

Some people get anxious at the prospect of meeting new people or being in certain kinds of social situations. If this is the case for you — or if you have problems making friends, keeping your relationships going, or the relationships you have aren’t satisfying to you — speak to your doctor.

What questions should I ask my doctor about social connection?
Social connection

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