Participation in social leisure activities may benefit mental health particularly among individuals that lack social connectedness at work or school

Line Nielsen, Carsten Hinrichsen, Katrine Rich Madsen, Malene Kubstrup Nelausen, Charlotte Meilstrup, Ai Koyanagi, Vibeke Koushede, Ziggi Ivan Santini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: Workplace and study environments generally provide opportunities for social connectedness, however, not all individuals in such settings are equally well connected. It is possible that potential mental health benefits of participation in social leisure activities may be greater for individuals that lack social connectedness through a workplace or study environment. This study aims to examine if the association between social leisure activities and mental health is moderated by the degree of social connectedness at work/school. Design/methodology/approach: Data stem from 2,406 adults (age range 16-64 years old) from The Danish Mental Health and Well-Being Survey 2016. Validated scales were used to measure mental well-being and depression/anxiety symptoms. Multivariable linear regression analyses were conducted. Findings: Participation in social leisure activities (i.e. participation in community/social groups such as a sports association, art club, book club, running group, card game club, cultural or political group) was positively associated with mental well-being and negatively associated with depression/anxiety symptoms. The associations were stronger among individuals feeling less socially connected at work/school and strongest among individuals that were unemployed or not enrolled in education. Originality/value: Mental health promotion strategies may focus on promoting social leisure activities especially among unemployed or otherwise socially isolated groups, as well as among individuals that are not well connected at their workplace or school. Workplaces and schools may also monitor employee/student social connectedness and potentially intervene accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMental Health and Social Inclusion
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)341-351
Publication statusPublished - 16. Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

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© 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Leisure activities
  • Mental health promotion
  • Social connectedness
  • Social participation
  • Well-being


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