Did you hear the one about the young man who decided to test the quality of his personal connections with his Facebook friends? He invited them all to a party. But when the time came to party no one showed up and he was left all alone.
This anecdote isn’t intended to criticize Facebook but it speaks to the nature and quality of human relationships, an essential factor in loneliness. It ties into the “Connected-ness, Companionship and Community” theme of keynote speaker Michael Lavis at the annual “Celebration of Inclusion” hosted by the Regina and District Association for Community Living. The annual Inclusion Awards night recognizes individuals and organizations that increase opportunities for community members who have an intellectual disability to contribute in a real and meaningful way to life in our society.
Michael Lavis, the Executive Director of Creative Options Regina (COR) spoke on the topic of loneliness because some members of our society may have more difficulty than others in establishing close relationships with other people, people other than family members, with whom they are personally and emotionally connected. His presentation drew on research that suggests loneliness is on the rise. All demographics are affected and today 40% report feeling lonely, which is up from 20% in the 80’s. Among the causes and risk factors are segregation and having few or non-existent meaningful relationships.
Michael went on say loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health. To combat it we need to increase our understanding of the value of positive supports and relationships in health and recovery. We need to look for signs of loneliness, make quality relationships a top priority, and create an environment conducive to such relationships.
Prairie Spruce Commons is just such an environment. It is a community that is intentionally designed to facilitate positive interactions amongst its members and which operates on the principles of being respectful, caring and sharing. We foster a sense of belonging. Have you found that sense of belonging?