• Aliza Septimus, PsyD

Lean on Me: Why People With a Mental Health Crisis Need a Support Network



Human beings have a need for social connection. It stems from our ancestors needing to stick together to stay alive. Back in the day, those individuals who strayed from the group had a harder time surviving the elements and not starving to death.


While it is far safer to be an individual these days, that doesn't mean it is healthy for us to be isolated, for isolation undoubtedly threatens a person's mental well-being.


It is for this very reason that people suffering from depression and other mental health issues need the love and encouragement from a support network.


Social Connection: A Vital Part of Depression Recovery


When a person suffers from depression, they live with a constant pit of despair at their side. Every moment hurts and the truth about life remains elusive.


When we feel these dark feelings, there is a natural tendency to retreat and isolate ourselves. But this only makes the dark darker.


Recovery from depression is a complex process but you don't need to go it alone. By surrounding yourself with friends and loved ones, you can continue to feel genuine connections, and each one of those connections is a light that can pierce through the darkness.


Research suggests there is a definite link between social relationships and many different aspects of a person's mental health and wellness. It is for this reason that mental health professionals often discuss the importance of having a strong social network.






Get Yourself Social Support


Social support comes in many different forms. Sometimes you might need help with daily tasks if you are struggling with depression. Sometimes you may need an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on, and sometimes you may need some sound advice.


Whatever you may be going through and whatever kind of help you need, here are some ways you can build a support network of people that love and care about you.


1. Create a List

Make a short list of friends and family members who have shown their love, kindness, and support in the past.


2. Make a Commitment

Commit to reaching out to someone on your list every week (if not more). You can do this through a phone call, text, email, or in person.


3. Be Honest

The people that love you can only help and support you if you are honest with them. When you reach out, share what is on your mind and heart. Talk openly about any struggles you are dealing with and be sure to be open to any fresh perspective or advice.


4. Get Out - When Possible

With COVID still affecting our lives, it's not always easy to get out and be social in person. Real life connection is remarkably helpful and healing for our mental health. Phone calls, emails, and video chats work in a pinch, but if possible, try spending time with a loved one in person.


It's also important to mention that sometimes we need a bit more help than our loved ones can give. If, after forming your support network, you feel that you need additional help, I encourage you to reach out to a mental health specialist. A therapist can give you tools and strategies that will help you recover from depression.


SOURCES:

https://psychcentral.com/lib/social-support-is-critical-for-depression-recovery#1


https://mhanational.org/stay-connected


https://www.verywellmind.com/social-support-for-psychological-health-4119970


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