Contact: Jennifer Miller/Elizabeth Goodsitt 608-266-1683

Office of Children’s Mental Health Director Linda Hall today announces the publication of a new fact sheet, Strengthening Social Connections and Relationships, and details what our communities, schools, parents, and policymakers can do to make a difference.


  • Symptoms of emotional distress feel and look different for every youth.
  • Having strong, positive, and consistent sources of social connection allows youth to talk about how they are feeling in a safe environment.
  • Providing youth with positive childhood experiences (PCEs), including supportive relationships with adults and social connections with their peers, family, community, and culture can buffer symptoms of distress.
  • A feeling of belonging in high school and having at least two non-parent adults who care are 2 of 7 PCEs that support youth becoming resilient.
  • For teens, a social network beyond their family is important for their physical and psychological health. As teens develop their own identity, peers offer support and relief from depression, anxiety, and stress.
  • Kids are socially connected when they have enough relationships to make them feel like they belong, are cared for, valued, and supported.
  • In Wisconsin, 23% of kids have difficulty making and keeping friends and 40% live in neighborhoods that do not support their being socially connected.

What We Can Do

  • Parents can seek out ways for their child to connect with peers early and often so children learn to foster relationships on their own.
  • Teachers can promote mutual respect in the classroom by reducing any threats of a student being embarrassed or teased.
  • Mental health providers can teach life skills to children so they learn how to be a good friend and maximize their opportunities to socialize.
  • Policymakers can incentivize initiatives and prioritize policies that encourage models of social connectedness such as integrated care, early intervention, and collaborative activities across sectors.

See the complete fact sheet 

See previous fact sheets

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