The Importance of a Support Team

The importance of building your own support team to maintain your mental health cannot be understated.  This is what I would consider to be one of the prongs of a multi-pronged system one creates to support their own mental health. The support team may look different for different people.

Before I checked myself into a partial hospitalization program due to my major depression, I invited two of my best friends to my house.  One of them knew that I had been suffering from depression and the other one had no idea.  I sat down with them at my kitchen table and shared with them my plan to take time off from work and enter a rehab program for my depression.  I asked for their help and support.  They had no idea how to support me.  In my state of mind, I had no idea what I needed either.  I asked them to send me text messages now and then and to invite me out for coffee or some other activity to get me out of the house.

I had been sharing my depression all along with my wife, my sister, and my brother and knew that they were clearly people who I could trust and count on in times of support. I had at least one or two uncontrollable crying bouts with my siblings and many with my wife.  They were understanding, compassionate, and supportive. I was lucky to have them all.

I made sure that I had a psychologist and a psychiatrist who I trust and can meet with at any time.  I haven’t seen a therapist for over a year, but I still know that I have one whom I trust and could call at any time in order to schedule an appointment.

Finally, a couple of days prior to entering the program, I attended my first every support group.  It was a group for men with depression and/or anxiety.  I broke down and cried for most of my first two hours with these men, as I shared my story and my plan.  They were a group with which I felt an immediate connection.  I haven’t had to deal with depression for two years, yet I continue to meet with this group of men twice a month.

As I mentioned earlier, everybody’s support team is going to look different.  Some people may rely on friends, mental health workers, and a religious leader.  Others may rely on family, relatives, and a trusted neighbor.  The point is to have people who you trust and can reach out to in times of need.

Please feel free to comment on this post, as well as any of my other posts. Thank you.

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7 thoughts on “The Importance of a Support Team

  1. Pingback: Spouses Need Support, Too! | A Mental Health Blog by Al Levin

  2. coachfletcher

    This is really interesting. A friend of a friend recently had to be hospitalized and is suffering with severe depression. I didn’t know what to do or how to help, but your post now gives me at least some insight into what people may need. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. paralleldichotomy

    Support teams are so important! One of the issues in our system, though, is that sometimes compiling a professional support team can be very difficult. Many may not have the option of getting a psychiatrist at all, let alone one they feel comfortable with. I’ve been advocating for a regular psychiatrist for myself since November. I finally have an appointment with one on May 10. I have no idea what the psychiatrist is like or if we’ll “click”, but, in my state, psychiatrists are few and stretched to the max with patient loads numbering in the hundreds.

    Not to negate your post at all, I REALLY appreciate your honesty and openness in sharing this. And I’m so happy for you, having a team of friends/family, professionals, and peers that make you feel supported and loved and accepted! That’s fantastic! I also appreciate you mentioning that “support teams” can take many forms! Thank you for the post!

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    1. allevin18 Post author

      Thank you for your thoughts and comments. It’s sad to hear how long it’s been for you to be able to get a psychiatrist. I think our medical system has an incredibly long way to go in the field of mental health. I believe that is part of the reason that I try to emphasize that the support team may take many forms (various people). If one has limitations, such as finding the right medical professional, it’s important to look towards others (such as pastor, rabbi, other religious leader, friend, relative, trusted coworker, etc). Thank you again for sharing your important prospective! Good luck to you! Al

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  4. Caroline S. Cooper

    Glad I found you on Twitter. I enjoy your insights on finding support. It made me think about some recent training I had as part of my work as a peer specialist. Have you heard of the Wellness and Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) approach to wellness and recovery? It is a wonderful way to be reminded of what you need to do to stay healthy. Facilitators are trained and there is a specific process to follow for maximum benefit. I was recently trained to be a facilitator (classes are always led by two people) and I can’t wait to start teaching! By the way, I also have a blog and hope you will check it out. I blog on a number of topics but my recent series is called “Essays on Mental Illness.” I’m on WordPress, too. http://www.carolinescooper.com/blog/

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    1. allevin18 Post author

      Thanks for sharing. I have not heard of Wellness and Recovery Action Plan, but I have heard of many Peer Specialist programs. Good luck with the teaching! I’m sure you’ll do great. Very inspirational! I’ll definitely be checking out your blog. Thanks very much for the comments! Al

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