Previous research finds that…

  • Community participation activities such as taking an active interest in current affairs; regularly socialising with household members, friends, extended family and neighbours; taking part in organised community activities; and religious observance have been associated with improved psychological wellbeing.
  • In contrast, expressing opinions publicly and political protest are activities that have been associated with increased psychological distress.
  • Community participation is a prerequisite for developing social capital, a widely recognised predictor of physical and mental health.
  • Social capital is thought to positively affect health through improved health behaviour.  Individuals who are embedded in a network or community rich in support, social trust, information, and norms, have resources that help them improve their health.
  • Social capital also encourages social trust and membership. These factors can discourage individuals from engaging in risky health behaviours such as drug and alcohol abuse.
  • People’s happiness has been found to depend on the happiness of others in their networks with whom they are connected.  This effect can be observed for up to three degrees of separation, for example in the friends of one’s friends’ friends.

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