Support Networks- Do you have one?
In every workshop we’ve run, most weeks on Facebook and in nearly every blog I’ve written; I’ve mentioned the importance of support. It is one of the foundations of wellness and a pillar of recovery. It is part of the human condition to want to feel connected, to feel appreciated and to belong and throughout our lives we need to find support networks where we can exchange these with others.
A support network is traditionally people, that are safe and supportive. People, that will not judge you and with whom you can absolutely be yourself. When times are difficult, you support should provide comfort and ensure you feel heard. Over time support networks have evolved to suit the ever-changing human nature and include a vast range or people and places.
We know each support network will look different, but they will also provide varying levels of connection. Friends and family are common starting points for support; they are usually our first support network, one we are born into and grow with from a young age. As we get older we forge our own pathways to connection and for some, they find their support through their workplace or in the extracurricular activities of our adult lives.
Sporting teams, church groups, online gaming communities, gyms, professional networking groups, support groups, online forums, mother’s groups – the list could go on and as vastly different as everyone is, so are their support networks. Some people will need to touch base and nurture their support networks daily, others less often. There is no hard and fast rule. What is absolutely clear though, is that humans need connection and we need support; it is not possible for us thrive alone.
Having a supportive network surrounding us either in a physical or virtual form can be an early prevention and intervention tool. In the Mental Health First Aid workshop, we discuss at length the importance of support in this way, but also for those who are unwell. Having a strong support network, can help fight off the withdrawal and isolation that often comes with illness. It important to foster open and honest communication with your network so all parties can gain the benefit of a healthy support network.
People need to feel connected, understood and loved. Hopefully we get this first from our family, but as we get older we get to choose where we source these vital essentials from and we can find our perfect niche of support. Feeling connected and a part of something, is fundamental to positive mental health and there is a plethora of academic research to back this up. If you are feeling disconnected, use this a catalyst to re-connect. Reengage with your chosen support network and find that connection we all need!