When you’re affected by mental health problems, other people can often be the best medicine. Making the effort to stay in touch with others makes you feel better, and can be a critical, even life-saving support.
With friends, family, and others
When affected by mental health problems, we often don't feel like mixing with other people. We avoid seeing friends and family as usual. We may even avoid going to work or attending appointments. Interacting with others can just seem too overwhelming and difficult. It feels easier to be on your own.
Isolating yourself from others will only make you feel worse, however, and can mean delay in being diagnosed and receiving treatment and support. Make an effort to see people as usual, even if only for shorter periods or in ways with which you feel comfortable (for example, going to a movie together).
Most importantly, do tell a trusted person how you are feeling, especially if you are not yet receiving treatment or have thoughts of harming yourself. Talking to someone in this way is often the first step to recognising it’s time to make an appointment to see a GP or other health professional, to get the treatment and support you need to feel better again.
With your treatment and support team
The more that doctors, psychologists, and others understand how you are feeling and thinking, the better they will be able to help. Be as frank and open as possible with them, so that treatment and support can be suited as best possible to your situation. Be clear about symptoms, how the treatments help and also any side-effects that need to be discussed. Tell them, too, about any support needs you have – such as accommodation, for example – so that they can provide referral to relevant support services in the community.
Working on a positive relationship with health professionals will encourage them to provide a more engaged service – helping them to help you.
Online and offline
Being connected with others is an important part of everyone’s mental health.
Make staying in touch with friends and family a regular part of your life, whether it’s meeting up or simply catching up by phone once a week. It’s surprising how much difference it makes to have a chat with someone at the local newsagent or market stall too. We humans are truly social animals, and really do feel better and more connected after even a brief encounter.
Thanks to the Internet, we can be sociable even when alone at home too. It is especially valuable to join an online community such as the SANE Forums which provide a safe, anonymous online space to discuss shared concerns, exchange information and tips, and provide peer support. The Forums are available 24/7 and are a safe, anonymous, and moderated service provided by SANE in partnership with community mental health support services all around Australia.