Reese Witherspoon's Right — Adults Need 'Buddy Benches,' Too

Could these designated benches be the key to encouraging dialogue and conquering loneliness in today's volatile world?

Earlier this week, actress and producer Reese Witherspoon shared a video describing the plight of Sammie Vance, an elementary school student in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The video, which Witherspoon posted via Twitter, explains Vance's years-long effort to bring multiple "Buddy Benches" to her school, as these simple structures encourage children to befriend those who are feeling lonely. 

At their core, "Buddy Benches" exist to bring children together. Those who are feeling lonely are encouraged to sit on these designated benches, and other children are urged to approach and engage these individuals in an effort to cultivate friendship and promote mental health

But, as Witherspoon casually noted, children aren't the only ones who could benefit from such a concept.

While "Buddy Benches" aren't exactly a new concept, Witherspoon's love for them shines new light on Vance's environmentally-friendly efforts to collect bottle caps and transform the recycled plastic into benches for her school playground. Her tweet also serves as inspiration for adults to come together to discuss their differences or fight depression

Heidi Vance / YouCaring

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. However, a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B concludes that high-quality social relationships lower people's risk of depression. Being around people with "healthy moods"— people who exude an upbeat, positive attitude — can play a pivotal, restorative role in helping speed the recovery of individuals with related symptoms, ranging from low mood to clinical depression. Therefore, Buddy Benches promise to provide an outlet for these individuals as they seek natural solutions to their mental health issues.

"Buddy Benches" are meant to aid those who feel socially isolated, as they will be more inclined to venture out into the world and seek companionship from those who honestly care. By interacting with those within the community and making friends with people who are eager to lend a helping hand, those fighting symptoms of depression brought on by said loneliness might be able to reclaim some semblance of happiness as they work to heal their mental health concerns.

Cover image via Eye for Ebony / Unsplash

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