Building a Support NetworkSearch for Help
Building a Support Network
When you are trying to manage your mental health, you might want to establish a reliable support network to assist you through difficult times outside of your medical or psychological treatment team. Potential people you might consider to be in your 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 while still being respectful of their personal boundaries and obligations. It's best to choose those who you have a close relationship with or trust who also possess the traits you desire in a supportive person, such as being empathetic, caring, or a good listener.
If you feel like you don't have many close relationships in your personal life that you feel comfortable having in your support network, talk to your doctor or therapist about finding online or in-person support groups in your area.
Finding a support group can connect you with peers who may be experiencing similar struggles. Often times, we feel most comfortable talking to others who is going through similar challenges in life. Someone who will truly "get" where you're coming from.
- Increasing social support helps to improve moods, behavior, and relationships.
- Expanding social support helps to improve feelings of connectedness and improves communication.
- Purchase some inexpensive invitations or make some at home.
- Make a list of people to whom you can give or mail the invitations.
- The invitations are to ask people to be open to a visit or a phone call when:
- Support is needed.
- Help is needed with solving problems.
- Some encouragement is needed to improve mood.
- For local support groups
- For specialized support groups
Take Time to Connect with Others
- Spend time with your spouse or partner. Even if it’s difficult to go on regular dates, set aside time each day to reconnect, even if you just have time for a cup of coffee together in the morning for 5-10 minutes.
- Take people up on their offers of help or look into respite care, so you can have time to do other things like read a book or spend time with your other children.
- 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 1 or 2 activities a month, and then add more as you get comfortable and find more time.
- Nurture your emotional and spiritual needs. Some parents 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
Even when you are surrounded by a team of caregivers and professionals, it can feel isolating to be a parent of a child with mental or physical disabilities or with special health-care needs. Sometimes it feels like no one understands your journey. Navigate Life Texas is a resource for kids with disabilities and special needs. Through their website you can find a plethora of information on ways to connect with others parents whose children are diagnosed with a mental health condition.
Educate Your Family
- Depression, Anxiety, ADHD and other mental health conditions are common and not the result of lack of coping ability or personal strength.
- Your child or loved one is not making the symptoms up. 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.
- There is often a family history of mental health conditions. This may help other family members to understand.
- Treatment works, though it can can take several weeks or months. Parent input will be very important.
Identify Your Team
Who can you call when you need to vent about your 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 colleages or peers you can count on for additional support and to help keep you focused while at work? Often our personal struggles can have a negative affect on our work success without us even realizing it. It's important to have someone at work to check-in and let you know if they see your performance struggling to help you get back on track.
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 shows the teachers and school counselors that you are invested to work as a team to support your child's social, emotional, and educational well-being.
Keep a list of all medical providers, mental health providers, and others. Have a folder where you keep a list of all names, phone numbers, addresses, of those involved inproviding care and supoort, as well as all names or medications, educational and medical records. This will allow you to advocate for appropriate services by having important information at hand.
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.