As some of us are unwinding from the past two years of stress related to the pandemic, the results are in about its negative impact on us. As a whole the U.S has experienced a dramatic increase in depression and anxiety that have negatively impacted the quality of life for those who experience these symptoms. Adding to this burden is the mental health providers crisis, where many Americans are unable to find therapists that are in their insurance networks and/or are unable to pay the out of pocket rates for the therapist that they do find. These stressors are leading to the unhealthiest we have been as a society; with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color experiencing these symptoms at even higher rates due to disparities in healthcare and systemic racism.
However, one way to combat these stressors is to get back out there and reconnect. Research has shown that having a network/social support can improve your mental health overtime. Furthermore friends and social support can help you with emotional regulation, and reduces anxiety and stress through perspective taking. Getting back out there may take some practice and connecting with old friends may seem foreign because many of us are not the same people anymore and/or have significantly changed over the course of the past two years. But despite these changes it is still possible to reconnect, gain and/or maintain friendships through this transition and over the course of the lifespan.
By reconnecting with friends in real life, engaging in hobbies and/or social clubs, or building parent groups can be significant when attempting to reduce depression or anxiety symptoms. Dr. Johnson outlines 10 Tips for Making Friends and Dr. Degges-White shares the Importance of friendships over the lifespan. By making an conscious effort to reintegrate social connections back into your life, you can literally save it (not being hyperbolic), see research here.
So lets get back out there and make these positive connections!
If you or someone you know is dealing with depression, anxiety and/or suicidal ideation please reach out to SAMHSA’s National Helpline.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Also visit the online treatment locator.
About Stephanie Williams, PhD
Stephanie Williams, PhD, is the founder and clinical director of Integrated Psychological Assessment Services which is licensed in the state of California. IPAS staff are a group of inclusive-minded clinicians that focus on the connection between what we think, feel and do, and how changes in those key areas can improve one’s life. We value the unique experiences of our clients and pride ourselves in providing culturally competent services for People of Color, the LGBTQIA community and other systematically disenfranchised groups. Call or visit our website today to see how the right therapist can help you : 408-201-9850 | http://www.ipasinc.net
One thought on “The Importance of a Support Network”
I appreciate that you explained that according to research, having a network and/or social support can help your mental health over time. My friend has been struggling with her mental health these past few days and I’m glad that I found your article about mental health solutions. This is something that I must share with her, thanks!