Close and confiding relationships are one of the best ways to look after your psychological health.Posted: 22/05/2014
George Brown, a sociologist and Tirril Harris, a psychotherapist, conducted a ground breaking study in 1978 looking at social factors associated with the onset of depression in working class women in Camberwell, South East London. They found that women who reported the presence of at least one close and confiding relationship in their lives were much less likely to become clinically depressed following an adverse life event such as bereavement. What this study strongly suggests is that humans are relational beings and we need supportive relationships in our lives, and that when they are missing it can take a toll on our psychological health. This might seem obvious but in an increasingly digital age finding authentic relationships can be challenging. Note that relationships need not be sexual ones to provide a protective effect on psychological well-being – nor is the quantity important, it is the quality of them that counts. In the Brown and Harris study just one close and supportive relationship was protective. There are many reasons why people may be missing close and supportive relationships in their lives, and one of the roles of psychologists I believe is to help people nurture and develop their inherent capacities to have intimate and supportive relationships.
Robert Watson, Clinical Psychologist, Become Psychology.