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Fortem’s social support networks build strong relationships for good mental health

People who have support from the people around them – friends, family and community – are happier and healthier. 

That’s why many of Fortem’s programs incorporate social connection, as we encourage the first responder community, including family members, to join together to support each other.

This connection happens in both one-off activities and ongoing groups. The ongoing groups meet up regularly in various locations for workouts, trivia, coffee catch-ups, swims, walks, and more. 

Research shows that structured social support networks like these are important supports when times get tough and one or more need people to lean on. They also: 

  • Improve the participants’ ability to cope with stress 
  • Decrease the ongoing effects of emotional distress 
  • Promote good mental health 
  • Build self-esteem 
  • Improve physical health 

One of Fortem’s regular walking groups, which takes on a different section of Canberra’s Centenary Trail each month, is a great example of these benefits. Established in September 2020, the group has walked around 8 to 12 kilometres each time, all the while chatting about all the things on their minds.  

Fortem Activities Manager, and coordinator of the walking group, Clare Hourigan, says, “It’s a great group: they talk the whole time about all sorts of things. They also help each other out, such as helping each other get over muddy puddles along the way.” 

The group is creating new friendships that are becoming rock solid. “This group have built some really supportive relationships with each other over the last few months, and they catch up outside of the walking group now.” 

Being part of a social support network like this, which enables them to share in good times and support each other through challenges, will help these participants to cope with the things life throws their way. 

To join a social support network, register for one of our ongoing activities here on our Wellbeing Activity Calendar
Our groups are inclusive and welcoming of new attendees.

Fortem activities are designed to support the mental fitness of our first responder families. Read more about Our Approach.
Find out Who We Support and share this story to help us reach them.