Home Male Psychology Investing in Social Networks Reduces Men’s Mental Health Issues, Suggests New Study

Investing in Social Networks Reduces Men’s Mental Health Issues, Suggests New Study

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Men’s use of social networks can have a significant impact on their mental health, according to a recent study by researchers at Deakin University in Australia. The longitudinal study examined various facets of social network investment, including the time spent with friends, the size of friendship networks, the types of activities men engage in with their friends, and their correlation with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.

The study was conducted over four years and included data from 507 men aged between 28 and 32 years. The researchers found that larger social networks and frequent interactions with friends are associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress among men.

The findings were published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being

One of the most critical findings of the study was the association between the size of men’s social networks and their mental health. Men with larger friendship networks, both close and extended, reported fewer symptoms of depression. This was true both cross-sectionally and longitudinally, indicating that a well-established network of friends can provide long-term mental health benefits. Specifically, having more friends appeared to be protective against depressive symptoms one year later, even after accounting for prior levels of depression.

The type of activities men engage in with their friends also play a role in their mental health. Activities such as sharing meals, participating in physical activities, and helping friends with tasks were linked to lower levels of concurrent depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that not only the presence of friends but also the quality and nature of interactions with them are crucial for mental well-being.

Interestingly, the study found that social drinking with friends was not associated with any significant changes in mental health symptoms. This finding contradicts some common perceptions about the social benefits of drinking. The researchers noted that the study only accounted for whether or not men drank with friends and did not measure the quantity of alcohol consumed or the potential misuse of alcohol, which could influence the relationship between social drinking and mental health

The study also explored whether the associations between social network investments and mental health differed based on fatherhood or relationship status. The results indicated no significant differences, suggesting that the benefits of social network investments on mental health apply broadly across different life circumstances. This underscores the importance of fostering social connections for all men, regardless of their relationship or parental status.

These findings highlight the need for public health initiatives that promote the development and maintenance of social networks among men. Given the rising concerns about social isolation and loneliness, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the study’s results provide a compelling case for targeted interventions. Programmes such as community sports, group activities, and social clubs could help enhance men’s social networks and, consequently, their mental health.

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