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The Importance of Community

By Nthabiseng Shongwe

“We do not seek wellness, we simply must return to the well.”
– Nianarri

The role of community in the process of healing has long been understood to be not only foundational but necessary. As Dr Mothomang Diaho, Founder of Spiral Al-oe Health & Wellness, shares “we all need crucibles of support – they hold us, they heal us”. While lifestyle choices and genetics play a role in predicting our longevity, research shows that a person’s sense of belonging and community is extremely im-portant in determining whether they live a long, healthy, and happier life (Science Daily).

The community variables that influence a person’s life expectancy also look at whether they have access to good healthcare, the population density of the area in which they live, their dietary choices and access to healthy foods, their socio-economic position, as well as the bonds they have with others in the areas where they live.
In South Africa alone, more than 17-million people in South Africa are dealing with depression, substance abuse, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia (Business Tech, 2018). Globally, that number increases exponentially with more than 300 million people suffering from depression, the leading cause of disability, with many of these people also suffering from symptoms of anxiety (WHO, 2020).
With the world now facing a global pandemic that further exacerbates these feel-ings, the nurturing and protection of safe and supportive communities can not be understated. As we focus inward both at governmental, societal, and individual lev-els to cope with various challenges presented by events such as a pandemic, we must also look to those around us.
It is never too late to cultivate close relationships. It might mean we have to make new friends but we can also rekindle the love and joy in existing relationships by giving them our focus. Call a friend, have dinner together as a family, meet your neighbours, and learn about activities and volunteering efforts that are happening in your community (Harvard Health, 2017).
Even if relationships have their ups and downs, people who work on their relation-ships have a deeper sense of belonging that is both comforting and encouraging for the journey of life, for when times are tough but also to celebrate when the good times are going.