Relationships are significant predictors of social and emotional wellbeing, positive mental health, and happiness

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Artwork by a child showing empathy

“I am deep breathing because I am mad.”

Experts say:

Quality relationships and perceived social support greatly increase an individual’s resilience and protect against negative and stressful experiences (Lee et al., 2001). Individuals with satisfying relationships and who are socially active report lower levels of depression and anxiety, above-average levels of happiness, and higher resiliency across a wide array of stressful experiences and environments (Lee, Draber, & Lee, 2001).

Research shows that relationships are among the strongest predictors of child wellbeing (Newland et al. 2015). This holds true across multiple predictors including life satisfaction, mental health, self- image, and overall psychological wellbeing (Newland et al., 2015). Supportive and positive relationships with peers, non-related adults in the community, and a strong sense of school belonging were significantly and positively related to life satisfaction, which is a critical aspect of happiness for youth (Oberle, Schonert-Reichl, Zumbo, 2011).

Evidence Roots of Empathy helps with mental health and wellbeing:

  • Participants reported “…positive effects on children’s mental health and well-being, particularly with decreasing children’s anxiety, increasing self-confidence, and demonstrating greater empathy towards others” (Cain & Carnellor, 2008, p. 69)
  • The study found the program to strengthen the “partnership between teachers, children, parents and the school community” (Cain & Carnellor, 2008, p. 68)
  • Demonstrating empathy in artwork

    “What can Roots of Empathy teach the world? To bring people together!”

    Taken from Roots of Empathy  2022 Global Annual Performance Evaluation

    • 95% of Host Classroom Teachers reported that because of Roots of Empathy students understand that all feelings are okay.
    • 97% of Host Classroom Teachers reported that because of Roots of Empathy students have an opportunity to talk about their feelings.
    • 88% of Host Classroom Teachers reported that because of Roots of Empathy students increased their vocabulary of feeling words.
  • Participants of the program  also say that Roots of Empathy improves mental health and wellbeing :
    • “Roots of Empathy I think can also help you relax and feel calm or better if you were upset, mad, disappointed, nervous, or anxious.” (Grade 5/6 Student, Humewood Community School, Toronto, Ontario)
    • “With the Roots of Empathy I think that [people] can learn how to better control and express their emotions. I think that this is important because no one should have to hide how they are feeling from other people.” (Grade 7/8 Student), Sacred Heart Catholic School, Sarnia, Ontario)
    • “This program has been instrumental in teaching and developing the socio-emotional aspects of our curriculum including self-regulation. The program has contributed to student well being and has helped [them] manage their behaviour better and understand the points of view of others and the importance and value of displaying empathy.” (Grade 3 Teacher, Second St. Community School, Burnaby, B.C.)

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Cain, G., & Carnellor, Y (2008). Roots of Empathy: A research study on its impact on teachers in Western Australia. Journal of Student Wellbeing, 2(1), 52-73.

Lee, R. M., Draper, M., & Lee, S. (2001). Social connectedness, dysfunctional interpersonal behaviors, and psychological distress: Testing a mediator model. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 48(3), 310-318.

Newland, L.A., Lawler, M.J., Giger, J.T. et al. Predictors of Children’s Subjective Well-Being in Rural Communities of the United States. Child Ind Res 8, 177–198 (2015).

Oberle E, Schonert-Reichl KA, Zumbo BD. Life satisfaction in early adolescence: personal, neighborhood, school, family, and peer influences. J Youth Adolesc. 2011;40(7):889-901. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9599-1