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Building a Support Network

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Building a Support Network

In managing your mental health, you may want to establish a reliable support network outside of your medical or psychological treatment team. Your support network might include family members, close friends, trusted clergy or community leaders.

Invite people to be in your network by disclosing your condition and asking if they would be willing to offer support in ways that respect their personal boundaries and obligations. It's best to choose people that:

  • You trust
  • You have a close relationship with
  • Have the traits you desire in a supportive person, such as being empathetic, caring, or a good listener

If you don’t have many relationships that you feel comfortable asking to be in your support network, talk to your doctor or therapist about finding online or in-person support groups in your area.

A support group can connect you with peers who may be experiencing similar struggles. Often, we feel most comfortable talking to others who are going through similar challenges in life—people who truly "get" where we’re coming from.

Social Support

Increasing social support helps to improve moods, behavior, and relationships. It also helps to improve communication and feelings of connectedness.

  • Make a list of people who might to be open to a visit or a phone call when:
    • You need support
    • You need help with solving problems
    • You need encouragement to improve your mood
  • Purchase some inexpensive invitations or make some at home.
  • Give or mail the invitations to the people on your list.
  • For local support groups
  • For specialized support groups

 

Take Time to Connect with Others

  • Spend time with your spouse or partner. Set aside time each day to reconnect, even if you for a cup of coffee together in the morning or quiet conversation in the evening.
  • Find time to do other things like read a book or spend time with your children. Take people up on offers to help, or look into respite care.
  • Join friends for coffee, a monthly book club, or a moms’/dads’ night out. Build your support community, especially if you are a single parent. Start with one or two activities a month, then add more as you get comfortable and find more time.
  • Nurture your emotional and spiritual needs. Some people find talking with a therapist or clergy member helpful. Others practice yoga, attend a spiritual community, journal, paint, or read poetry. Do what works for you and helps you.

Connect with Other Parents

If you’re the parent of a child with mental health issues, physical disabilities, or special health-care needs, you can feel isolated sometimes—even when surrounded by a team of caregivers and professionals. Navigate Life Texas is a website that offers ways to connect with other parents whose children are diagnosed with disabilities or special needs.

Educate Your Family 

  • Depression, anxiety, ADHD and other mental health conditions are common. They are not the result of lack of coping ability or personal strength. 
  • A person with mental health problems is not making up symptoms. What looks like laziness or crossness can be signs of depression. What may seem to be a dramatic or over-the-top reaction can be symptoms of anxiety.
  • Mental health conditions are often hereditary. Knowing this may help other family members to better understand the behaviors and symptoms.
  • Treatment works, though it can can take weeks or months.

Identify Your Team

  • Who can you call when you need to vent about work, family, or emotional stress? During stressful times, fill them in and ask if they can reach out to you regularly to help you feel supported.
  • Who are colleagues or peers you can count on for additional support and to help keep you focused while at work? Often, personal struggles can negatively impact our performance at work without us even realizing it. It's important to have someone at work you can check in with, someone who can help you get back on track if you are struggling.
  • Is there a teacher, school counselor, or other school staff member that you can communicate with regularly to ensure your child is being supported? While it's important for school staff to keep parents informed, it is imperative that parents make contact with school staff and maintain open communication. This demonstrates that you are invested in working as a team to support your child's social, emotional, and educational well-being.

Keep a folder with the following information. This will allow you to advocate for appropriate services by having important information at hand.

  • A list of all medical providers, mental health providers, and others involved in providing care and support. Include names, phone numbers and addresses.
  • A list of medications
  • Educational records
  • Medical history

 

The information on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. We do not recommend or endorse any specific tests, mental health providers, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.

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