Relationships & Peer Support

Now that we have a better understanding of ourselves, let’s talk about our connection with others!


Why do we need to be social?!

You might have heard before that humans are social creatures. What does that mean?

Throughout history, humans have been known to live, work, and travel in groups. Back in hunter-gatherer times, living in a group allowed us to find food and resources more easily. Everyone was working together!

By being in a supportive community, humans were able to keep each other safe and survive!


Why do we need to be social?!

By being in a supportive community, humans were able to keep each other safe and promote the survival of our species.

In other words, people need people! We are used to having a community of friends, families, and neighbours to rely on.

As we grow up, we will meet and spend time with a variety of people.

We might meet them at school, at work, in our neighbourhood, on the internet, or a store!


What is a connection?

When we interact with someone again and again, we may form a connection or bond with them. Our connection to them will have a personal meaning for us.

These connections are called interpersonal relationships or social relationships.


Types of Relationships

Do you recognize the different types of relationships that people can be a part of?

Family Relationships

Our connection to a parent or guardian, a sibling, or extended family members


This is a connection we have with someone who you may not see or hang out with everyday. We may not feel super emotionally close to our acquaintances, but they make up an important part of our wide social circles and communities.

Professional Relationships

These are the relationships we have with people at work or at school – also often called a colleague or coworker. We may have lots of different and frequent interactions with colleagues or fellow students while we work on different tasks or projects.

Romantic Relationships

This may be any kind of close partner (like a boyfriend or girlfriend). It is often someone who we feel extra special about and dedicate more time and attention to.

Friendships or Platonic Relationships

This could be our best friend or multiple people, like a peer who we like to spend time with and who we care about!

Mentor Relationships

These may be people we know well and feel comfortable going to for advice or support (like a coach or teacher) or it could be someone we don’t know well and don’t interact with much, but who we still look up to and admire (like an older student or even a celebrity)


Why DO we need relationships anyway?

Relating to and living in community with others is a basic human need. In fact, this sense of need starts from the moment we are born. Babies begin the process of social connection by bonding with their caregivers.


Why DO we need relationships anyway?

Social connection is that feeling we get when we are interacting with another person or group and feel a sense of bonding, belonging or closeness. Social connection can be experienced in many different situations, whether that’s through spending time with the people close to us, meeting new people, doing an activity with others, or even just saying hello to the bus driver on the way to school!


Why DO we need relationships anyway?

Belongingness takes social connection to the next level! It is actually one of the 3 main psychological needs that humans have, along with competency (feeling capable of doing and mastering things) and autonomy (feeling free to make your own choices) in order to function and flourish.

Having these needs met can help us feel motivated and fulfilled in our lives because when we feel like we belong (e.g., to a social group, or community, or in our relationships), we feel accepted and valued for who we are.



Why DO we need relationships anyway?

Right, right, some of us may actually feel more comfortable on our own – and that’s okay too! Some of us are just more introverted rather than extroverted, but we may also put more attention and time into other things, or may have some anxiety around social situations which can get in the way of developing and maintaining strong relationships.

It’s important to know that feeling okay being alone AND finding ways to connect positively with others are both important parts of maintaining a balanced mental health!


The Importance of Relationships

So we now know that forming, maintaining and navigating relationships and social connection of all sorts is a pretty important piece of the mental health puzzle!

Studies have shown that when we lose relationships, feel lonely, become isolated, or we are experiencing problems in our relationships, there are negative effects on our health.


The Importance of Relationships

Most of us can relate to this – we all know how NOT good it feels to have a fight with a friend or parent, or to feel on the outside in social situations.

The people we connect and spend time with also influence our behaviours – whether those are supporting healthy, positive actions (e.g., like volunteering together, supporting one another through tough stuff) or whether they reinforce some not-so-helpful things (e.g., like engaging in risky behaviours, such as drug abuse).


The Importance of Relationships

Alternatively, by forming and maintaining positive and fulfilling relationships, we feel more like we belong and our sense of trust in others goes way up (along with the probability of reaching out for help when we need it)!

Most of us can also relate to this – it isn’t always easy to find and it takes work to cultivate, but it’s a pretty awesome feeling to bond with another person over something you both love, or to be able to share something personal with another person and know they will respect your privacy.

All in all, having strong social bonds actually helps us to live longer and have a better well-being.


Myth-Buster: Relationships & Peer-Support

Sometimes we feel that things like making friends, keeping up with social stuff or being an active part of our community should just come naturally, but for many of us, it’s important to dispel this myth and tell the truth, which is that relationships (of any kind) take effort and care!

So whenever you feel lonely or discouraged, know that you are not really alone and find ways to reach out when you need support! We’ll talk more about that in the next section!


Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships

Think of a relationship in your life and check off whatever reminds you of that relationship/person. Take a step back and look – does this look like a negative or positive relationship?

Healthy Relationships

  • Positive or makes you feel more fulfilled/valued
  • Supportive
  • Accepting
  • Sense of Trust

Unhealthy Relationships

  • Ignores your boundaries
  • Often negative or makes you feel bad about yourself
  • Feel like you can’t be yourself

Fostering Healthy Relationships!

Remember, no relationship is perfect and no one person can give us everything we need, so it’s important to recognize when something is harmful in a relationship and also look for multiple different kinds and levels of relationships as well.

For example, it’s awesome to have a best friend, but not everyone can be or feel like a best friend – it’s totally normal and healthy to have some people you feel you can trust and talk to about anything and everything, AND others in your life that maybe you only do certain activities with because it’s fun or you both share a common interest.

All types and levels of friendships are valid!


Learning Checkpoint!

So it turns out relationships are important for our mental health, but not all relationships are equal and it takes time, effort and care to build and maintain positive, healthy ones.

Let’s recap what we’ve learned so far to remember the important bits!

Need help identifying and forming positive relationships? Are you unsure about who you can rely on when you need support?

In the next section, we will talk about making friends, building a support system, and managing our relationships.

Are you ready?