Publications & Presentations


Why Mattering Matters

For many individuals who experience serious mental illnesses, social isolation and loneliness are part of their experience of everyday life. However, social connection is not simply being in the presence of others. Do people notice when someone is there or when they are absent? Does their presence contribute to the social environment or to the activity? In short, does it feel like they matter? This document presents the importance of social connections and mattering for all people, and why these issues are especially important for people living with mental illnesses. 

Relationships Matter

We all know relationships matter. A phone call from a friend, celebrating a new job. Someone to bring you soup when you’re sick. Advice when challenges seem insurmountable. Someone to grab coffee with and just catch up. The interactions we have with the people who are important to us help shape who we are and affect both mental and physical health. This resource identifies how relationships matter in the words of people living with mental health conditions.

You Matter

You matter, but what does mattering really mean? When we matter to other people, we feel valued, appreciated, recognized, and respected. We wanted to hear what mattering means to people with serious mental health conditions and learn more about their experiences. Although we did not provide any definition or background information on the concept of mattering, our participants independently identified the three components of mattering: Awareness, Importance and Reliance. This document identifies when and how they matter, as well as feel like they don’t matter.


Need2BNeeded (Philadelphia College of Physicians, Public Health Day, April 3, 2024).

Social isolation and loneliness have been identified as a significant public health concern with the US Surgeon General’s office releasing an advisory on the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation in the United States in May 2023. Although loneliness and social isolation can create emotionally negative experiences they also confer significant physical health risks. Human beings are inherently social in nature with a fundamental motivation to engage in environments and activities that facilitate social connection.  Yet adults with serious mental illness (SMI) such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, experience social isolation and loneliness at rates significantly greater than the general population. Social isolation and loneliness represent inadequacies in meaningful social connectedness, limiting feelings of mattering. Mattering results from social information that one is valued and needed by others and contributes value to one’s environment. People with SMI frequently experience disconnection from relationships that can support a sense of mattering to others. The Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion is currently engaged in a rehabilitation research project to reduce social isolation and loneliness through the construct of mattering. This five-year project seeks to identify the role of mattering in social isolation and loneliness for adults with SMI and refine and test a behavioral intervention to enhance social connectedness and feelings of mattering.

Why Mattering Matters to Public Health (Temple University College of Public Health, February 3, 2023)

Loneliness has been asserted to be both a pandemic and a public health issue. Yet, loneliness represents a symptom of the problem of poor-quality social connections as opposed to the root cause. One potential root cause may be understood through the concept of mattering. Although mattering was initially identified as a psychological construct theorized to be an element of self-esteem, it can also be understood at personal, relational, and community levels. Understanding and fostering a sense of mattering at all levels can influence health outcomes.

Building relationships that matter to counter social isolation & loneliness (PA Assn of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services Virtual Conference, April 2022)

WEBINAR: Never Being Sought After by Anyone for Anything: Social Isolation and Loneliness Among Adults with Serious Mental Illnesses sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research on August 5, 2021, is now available at the following link: