You know what it means to support others. You are always there for your friends and family when they need you. You listen to them when they need to vent, you drive them places when they don’t have a ride, and you cheer them up when they need encouragement.

So, who does that for you?

Building a healthy support system involves much more than just finding people to help you out in times of need. Well, that counts too but there are specific traits of a healthy support system that you need to have to further your success in recovery from a mental health issue.

You have already accomplished the hardest part, fixing your problem. Now it is time to make sure nothing will make that problem return. Having a healthy support system will ensure you have the best tools, the best defense, to guard against relapse of any kind.

A healthy support system involves you being accountable to someone, fellowshipping with others who have similar problems, and gaining knowledge about your disorder and its symptoms so you can recognize triggers. In addition, a healthy support system includes appropriate psychological services.

Finding your purpose is another aspect of a healthy support system that can give you goals to help you reach success.

1. Accountability

A healthy support system includes someone who can call your bluff when needed, offer honest feedback without you getting angry, and help you stay or get back on track. With no one holding you accountable, recovery can become dangerous. It gives you the room to start justifying behaviors that are not aligned with healing.

Accountability has been shown to work in a variety of programs, including diet, exercise, addiction and mental health. By answering to someone else, you are more likely to stick to a plan.

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You may feel confident and like you can remain in recovery without support. However, as time goes on it becomes harder and harder to maintain good health. That is unless you have someone to support you.

When the struggles become more difficult, and they may, you need a person who can keep you on track and prevent a possible relapse.

2. Fellowship

A healthy support system includes a group of others who can relate to your circumstances. Fellowship simply means gathering with people who share similar beliefs, thoughts, and experiences that you do to improve your life. Support groups offer a terrific way to fellowship when you are recovering from a mental illness.

Attending a support group offers just that, support. You meet other people who are going through the same problems you are and you discover current ways to overcome obstacles in your path.

Fellowship can also be done by meeting with others at a coffee shop or just hanging out with a group of people at a social location. The point is to gather with like individuals who can offer understanding and encouragement.

3. Education

A healthy support system includes resources that can offer you information about your issues and on recovery. The more knowledge you have about your illness, the better you can fight it and stay in recovery.

If you begin recovery from depression, for example, it is important that you learn why you have depression, how the brain and depression connect, and how to prevent depression relapse.

Education is like ammunition that can help defend you from healing destroyers. If you know relapse triggers, healthy resources, and positive outlets then you will be well-armed to move forward safely in your recovery.

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4. Psychological Services

A healthy support system includes a professional counselor or a Psychiatrist. This counselor can be a pastoral counselor or a mental health specific counselor. Meaning, if you have an eating disorder, seek a counselor who has a specialty in eating disorders. Or, if you have been abused, seek a counselor who specializes in domestic violence or related field.

You don’t go to the eye doctor to fix a broken leg. The concept here is the same. Find the right professional who can offer confidential treatment.

A Psychiatrist can help you obtain any medications you may need in recovery and a counselor can assist you in changing your thoughts, behaviors, and actions so that you remain in recovery.

Counseling will raise your confidence, teach you to be independent and give you that extra oomph to succeed in recovery.

5. Purpose

A healthy support system includes your sense of purpose. What is the reason you want to stay in recovery? Maybe it is to help others in a comparable situation. Maybe it is to be a better parent. Maybe you want to complete a job or project.

Everyone has a purpose in life. Finding your purpose will enable you to stay focused on your recovery and give you a reason to prevent a relapse.

For instance, people with post-traumatic stress disorder have found finding their purpose to be healing. Knowing you have a job to do and a goal to reach helps you focus on something other than your illness. It gives you hope that there are many brighter days ahead.

Purpose directs you to make positive changes in your life, ones that will help you accomplish your goals. It acts as a guide or compass for when life happens and thinking becomes unclear. When this happens, you can redirect your thoughts so they are pointing towards your purpose, making you move away from negative interruptions, regroup and get back on track.

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Go ahead, find your purpose. Build your support system by hanging out with people who understand you and want to offer you encouragement.

Attend counseling so you can have a professional, someone not in your family and not your best friend, guide you through this process. Learn all you can about your symptoms and how to keep them from recurring.

Find a sponsor or accountability partner who can tell you the truth and help you stay on track.

Support systems are set in place, not because you want to have “yes men” around you all the time. You are not building a posse. You are building a group of people and activities that can offer you strict yet inspiring assistance on your journey of recovery.

You deserve the healthiest support system. Start building it today!


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