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The Healing Power of a Tribe

Loneliness and isolation are prevalent in our society today, more so than at any other time. 

According to the Morning Consult Survey done by Cigna, 58% of US adults consider themselves lonely.  Young adults are reporting especially high levels of loneliness at 79%.  Of those ages 16 to 24, 40% report they often or very often feel lonely, according to the largest loneliness study conducted by the BBC to date.  Those who are lonely and socially isolated, have a much greater chance of developing depression and anxiety.

One of the best tools for healing from mental health or other life struggles, is to find people or a tribe to connect to.

Johann Hari wrote a wonderful book about this called, Lost Connections.  He states that having a tribe is more than twice as effective as any depression or anxiety medication.  Hari shares that current research tells us that when people are asked how many friends they have to call on in a crisis, the most common answer is none.  Furthermore, according to much of the current research on anxiety, PTSD, trauma and depression, having a group/tribe, is one of the most significant things you can do to positively impact your ability to heal. In the book, “What Happened to You?”, Dr. Bruce Perry suggests that having a group to talk to where you feel safe, heard and understood creates more healing than any other single variable.

We are not meant to live life alone.

People are not meant to struggle alone. Human beings are social creatures designed to live in community. Programs like Hope Social (, are created to do things differently.  Our program merges an educational component, packed full of mental wellness tools with a strong supportive tribe of peers who understand.  We believe this combination promotes real life change and long-lasting healing.  If you live in the Southeast Valley, we would love to have you join us.  Otherwise, search for a program near you that offers peer support. 

You may have heard a similar version of this story before.  I think it does a great job of illustrating the healing power of the tribe. 

  • One day a teen struggling with depression, tripped and fell into a hole and couldn’t get out. When a family member was walking by, the teen called out for help, and the well-meaning family member yelled back, “you’ve got this, dig deep and keep going,” then threw her a shovel to help. The teen did as she was told and continued to dig that hole deeper.
  • A neighbor enjoying a stroll came by, and the teen called out for help again. The neighbor told her “Use the tools your family has given you”, then threw her a bucket. The teen used the tools, and she dug the hole deeper still and filled the bucket.
  • Later, a psychiatrist was walking by, and the teen called, “Help! I can’t get out!” so the psychiatrist tossed her some pills and said, “Take this. It will relieve the symptoms and you will forget about the hole.” The teen said, “thanks for helping” and followed his advice, but when the pills ran out, she was still in the hole.
  • After that, a well-known psychologist was out for a bike ride and heard the teens cries for help. She stopped and asked, “How did you get there? Were you born there? Did your parents put you there? Tell me about yourself, it will alleviate your sense of loneliness.” So, the teen talked with her for an hour, then the psychologist had to leave, but she said she’d be back next week. The teen thanked her, but she was still in the hole.
  • Another teen who had also struggled with depression, happened to be passing by. The teen in the hole cried out, “Hey, help me. I’m stuck in this hole!” and right away the teen passing by, jumped down into the hole with her. The teen who had been in the hole started to panic and said, “What are you doing? Now we’re both stuck down here!” But the passerby teen just smiled and replied, “It’s okay, don’t worry, I’ve been here before and I know how to get out.”

No matter what you’re going through, there are others who have been there, or are there, and who understand.  You are not alone in this.

Find your tribe!



Never give up on someone with a mental illness.  When the “I” is replaced by “We”, Illness becomes Wellness. – Shannon L Ad

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