Rolling Out

The importance of cultivating friendships for mental health

The impact of friendships on mental health, well-being and cultural identity
Photo credit: / - Yuri A

Friendships play a crucial role in our mental health and cultural identity, especially as adults. While making new friends can feel as daunting as dating, with awkward first encounters and the fear of being ghosted, the benefits to our mental well-being are substantial. Positive connections can help alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression while boosting self-esteem.

The therapeutic value of friendship

According to Dominique Mortier, a therapist at Bloom Psychology & Wellness, friendships are essential for our well-being and deserve to be nurtured. Friendships offer a unique space where we can be vulnerable and share aspects of ourselves that we may hide from others due to fear of judgment. This is particularly true for Black women, who often navigate a complex social landscape that requires them to present themselves in specific ways to thrive.

Five reasons to foster friendship

Cultural connection: Friendships provide a space to engage with our culture and preserve traditions through language, food, music, and spirituality. This is especially important for immigrants who may feel disconnected from their community.

Belonging and understanding: Having friends offers a safe environment to share experiences and gain different perspectives. For Black women, it’s a space to discuss racism and microaggressions with those who understand and relate. Moreover, friendships can be a space to embrace natural hair and share beauty routines, fostering a connection to their heritage and ancestors.

Self-expression: Friendships allow us to express suppressed parts of ourselves, like our inner child, and to be silly and open in ways we might not be in other relationships.

Chosen family: Friendships can become a chosen family for those whose biological families don’t meet their emotional needs or provide a fulfilling connection.

Empowerment and support: Friends offer comfort and encouragement to explore new opportunities and experiences that we might not consider independently.

In conclusion, friendships are more than just social connections; they are vital to our mental health and cultural identity. They empower us, provide a sense of belonging, and allow us to be our true selves. As such, they should be actively cultivated and cherished.

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