Why healthy friendships are important for mental health

Healthy friendships are essential for all of us.

Friends enrich our lives on every level and are involved in some of our biggest life milestones. Right from our first interactions in daycare or preschool, all the way through to our friendships in adulthood. Having great friends around is important for mental health and has been proven to increase our sense of belonging, improve self-confidence and even reduce stress and anxiety.

Friends are supposed to be good for us, but it’s important to accept that not all friendships are equal. Just like we sometimes make unhealthy lifestyle choices around what we consume or how active we are, we can also make unhealthy choices when it comes to the friends we surround ourselves with. There is growing evidence that suggests ‘bad’ friends, or even our well-intentioned friends with bad habits can be a negative influence on our mental health and even be a cause of stress in the first place.

It’s also a common misconception that we need to surround ourselves with lots of different friends to be happy, research suggests otherwise. It is the quality of friends, not the number of friends that leads to true happiness. The truth is however, it’s becoming more difficult to navigate friendship circles in our ever increasing digital world. The illusions of Social Media can make forming friendships and online connection seem so easy. True connections are harder to find.

So how can we tell who our true friends are and who will be there for us when we need help?

Here are five key ways to identify your true friends so you know who you can count on through thick and thin.

1. Good friends accept you for who you are

A true friend will love you for the person that you are, regardless of any flaws you think you may have. They will help you feel at ease being yourself and the connection between you should feel effortless. You shouldn’t feel like you have something to prove, they are the types of friends who laugh with you, and make you feel comfortable in your own skin regardless of what you do or talk about together. That doesn’t mean they will agree with you all the time. In fact, different outlooks help to expand our horizons.

A true friend will love you for the person that you are, regardless of any flaws you think you may have.”

2. Great friends stick around for the good and the bad times

Life has its ups and downs and a true friend will be there for you to celebrate the good times and importantly be there for you when times are tough. Similarly, sometimes life gets in the way and can make it difficult to see our friends as much as we would like. A true friend will set aside quality time to catch up. That may mean providing a shoulder to cry on, listening when you need support, or finding ways to cheer you up even when you don’t know you need it. But remember, if you haven’t heard from them for a while, they might also need support, so reach out to them. If communication is a one way street, and you feel like you are the one always reaching out or offering support, it’s likely your friendship will fade in time.

3. Great friends celebrate you and empower you to achieve your goals 

A great friend will celebrate your wins and genuinely want you to succeed in working towards achieving your goals no matter how big or small they may be. Whether that may be studying for an upcoming exam, cutting out unhealthy habits, pursuing a new sport, hobby or passion, or cultivating a creative outlet, great friends give us the motivation to help us follow through on our goals. Unfortunately, we learn through life that some disingenuous friends may feel insecure when you do well, and want you to fail. A true friend should celebrate your accomplishments with you.

4. True friends will tell you the truth even when you don’t like it

Everybody is different, and friends don’t have to be a carbon copy of each other. Our difference in opinions, way of thinking and even our taste in Netflix shows is what makes us unique. What is important in a healthy friendship, is a respectful acceptance of each other’s viewpoints. Sometimes we surround ourselves with ‘yes’ people to make us feel better about ourselves. The types of people that will comment on our socials and go along with every plan we come up with whether it is good or bad. Perhaps one of the most important indicators in knowing you have a true friend is that they give good advice and help guide you through life even when that means they don’t agree with you. Good friends will help us make the right choices even if that means saying something we don’t always want to hear.

5. True friends will always have your back 

A true friend will stand by you no matter what. Life can be messy, and we all struggle sometimes. Being able to lean on others for support can help lessen the load. A loyal friend will stand by you when times are tough. Seek friends who are supportive, trustworthy and who you can be honest with no fear of judgement. Friends that are known to gossip about you or others behind their back are likely disingenuous.

But what if you know you have true friends you can trust, but you don’t know how to confide in them when the going gets rough?

That’s where YourCrew comes in. 

Even when we feel surrounded by people that we know love us for who we are, it can still be tough opening up as well as recognising when our friends need support, particularly in the times we need it the most. The YourCrew app makes reaching out easier in those tough moments by allowing you to connect with your true friends through emojis, imagery and chats and has space for you to journal your thoughts and access support resources all in the one place. If you’re feeling consistently down, your Crew is alerted so they can reach out and see what’s up and how they can help you. And if the problem is too big for the both of you, professional support is accessible at the push of a button.

Make it your mission for you and your true friends to be there for each other for the ups and downs and download YourCrew today.