How Fostering Male Friendships Can Support Your Mental Health

By The Vault Team

Recent stay-at-home, quarantine, and social distancing orders have been unequivocally hard on our social lives—and our feelings of isolation.

But even before the pandemic began, researchers have been tracking rising trends of loneliness in the US. In one study conducted in 2019, 61% of those surveyed reported feeling lonely, a noticeable rise from the 54% mark reported in a similar study conducted the year before.

Poor physical and mental health, fewer meaningful social interactions, and demanding work structures have helped contribute to our growing culture of loneliness. And though making new friends as an adult isn’t short of its challenges, it’s clear that men have a particularly hard time when it comes to building meaningful friendships.

The Male Friendship Crisis 

In his book, Breaking the Male Code: Unlocking the Power of Friendship, psychotherapist Robert Garfield outlines how the traditional “male code” of stoicism, silence, and strength has hindered emotional and social development. As male roles continue to evolve, he’s witnessed how most men crave more connection and intimacy in their friendships—even if they don’t know how to build or nurture it. 

It’s safe to say that author and journalist Billy Baker would agree. In his memoir, We Need to Hang Out, Baker covers his quest to make friends to combat the biggest loneliness surge this country has ever seen. Though his adventures in friendship may not always be based on emotional connection—think fast-food road trips and treasure hunts—the results offer much of the same benefits. 

Loneliness Kills

We know what you’re thinking: Is loneliness really that big of a deal? Yes, it really is. It’s even been classified as an epidemic. 

Over the past decade, scientists, researchers, and academics have demonstrated how loneliness is a public health threat linked to mortality, heart disease, obesity and Alzheimer’s.

We're a social species, and we need healthy relationships with others in order to survive. But as we grow older, cultivating and maintaining fulfilling friendships becomes more and more difficult—especially for men.

Friendship’s Effect On Mental Health

It’s no surprise that social disconnection and a lack of support networks can impact loneliness, anxiety, and depression. In fact, a 2009 study found that people with insufficient perceived social support were more likely to suffer from mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. 

The neurology and biochemical regulation of friendship is clear: building bonds with others can release oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine in our brains. Put simply—social interaction makes us feel good.

Connecting in a Post-Covid World

If connecting with others wasn’t already complicated, Covid-19 has introduced new, significant challenges. For many, the past year has stripped us of the ability to interact with others in-person. 

If hanging out at the local bar or going to a game is no longer safe and accessible, you still have options. Most of us are Zoom experts at this point and have experienced our fair share of virtual get-togethers. 

But if you’re feeling shortchanged, you’re not alone. Sometimes, a 2-D version of your friend’s smile doesn’t always cut it. That’s where Vault can help.

Connect Safely with Vault’s Covid-19 Test Kit 

At Vault, we believe in supporting your mental health—as well as your physical health. Connecting with others is vital to your well-being, but in a global pandemic, extra precautions need to be made in order to ensure everyone's safety.

If you’re planning an in-person hangout with a close friend or family member, our FDA EUA authorized at home saliva test can help you eliminate the risk of person-to-person exposure to the Covid-19 virus.

After a year of unprecedented challenges, optimizing our health has become more important than ever. But we know how easy it is to leave our mental well-being on the backburner. If you’re looking for ways to optimize your physical and mental health, book an online visit with Vault today.

DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be relied upon for medical diagnosis or treatment.  If you are experiencing an emergency, dial 911 or contact a medical practitioner immediately.  Consistent with Vault Health, Inc.’s website privacy policy, Vault Health, Inc. is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content found at links to other websites.

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