• Lean on Me: The Importance of Support Networks During Mental Health Struggles

    Human beings have a need for social connection. This need stems from our ancestors needing to stick together to stay alive. Back in the day, individuals who strayed from the group had a harder time surviving the elements and finding sufficient food to eat.

    While it is far safer to live in isolation these days as it relates to survival, isolation is still not healthy for us. Isolation is certainly not good for our mental health and well-being.

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

    Social Connection: A Vital Part of Depression Recovery

    When we suffer from depression, we live with persistent despair at our side.

    When we feel these feelings of despair, there is a natural tendency to retreat and isolate ourselves. But this only makes the despair more painful.

    The Importance of Social Support

    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 despair.

    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.

    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 and a shoulder to cry on, and sometimes you may need some sound guidance.

    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 who love you and care about you.

    1. Create a List

    Make a shortlist 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 at least once a week (if not more often). You can do this through a phone call, text, email, or in-person.

    3. Be Honest

    The people who 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 guidance.

    4. Get Out – When Possible

    With COVID-19 still affecting our lives, it’s not always easy to get out and socialize in-person, but doing so is remarkably helpful and healing for our mental health. Phone calls and emails work in a pinch, but nothing beats spending time with loved-ones in-person. Going for a walk with a loved-one is one way to safely socialize during COVID-19. And besides, going for a walk adds the benefit of physical activity, which makes walking with a loved-one a double win.

    Professional Support

    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, it’s vital you reach out to a mental health professional who can give you tools and strategies that will help you recover from depression.

    If you’d like to explore treatment options, please reach out to me. I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

    SOURCES:

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    Would love to hear from you even if you’re not ready to make a committment to an appointment. Feel free to call or email me today to request a FREE 15-minute phone or video consultation.

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