Disorders and Treatment
- Mental Illness
- Bipolar Disorder
- Mood Disorders
- Borderline Personality
- Mental Health Diagnosis
- Mental Health Treatments
- Alternative Meds
- Case Studies
A social support network is not the same thing as a support group moderated by a mental health counselor. Rather, it is an informal circle of peers, friends, and family members—people you cultivate relationships with who can be counted on in times of need.
Social support networks are created by making an effort to start new friendships, and they are maintained by nurturing the connections you already have. Even an email or text saying, “Hi. Just thinking of you,” can refresh relationship bonds.
The psychological benefits of building a social support network are invaluable. They provide a sense of security, strengthen our sense of personal worth, and give us the much needed feeling of belonging.
A sense of security comes from knowing individuals who are willing to listen, provide information, recommendations, or assist us in other ways. Our self-worth is increased when we know there are people who enjoy our company, and being connected to others protects us from loneliness; it satisfies the basic human need of knowing we are not alone.
In healthy social support networks, the benefit goes both ways—others support you, and you are there to be a friend and support to others. Often the support is unspoken. Having coffee with a friend or talking to a sibling on the phone can relieve stress even when we do not talk about our problems.
To be a trusted support network member:
To build a social support network, or strengthen the one you have, requires effort on your part. However, the effort can be enjoyable. Many people make acquaintances and build friendships by volunteering where they can meet others with similar interests or values. You can also find like-minded people by taking community education or local college classes, participating in local theater or sports teams, and by joining a gym or community recreation center.
There are, countless ways to stay connected or make new connections online. Websites and online support groups exist for almost any issue you can think of. Although nothing can replace face to face time with family and friends, online contacts and relationships can be very encouraging, informative, and consoling.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Photo credit: Noel Teo / flickr creative commons
The information provided on the PsyWeb.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of PsyWeb.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.