A structured support system for recovery is essential. While your recovery journey is yours alone, others help enrich your existence, and counter feelings of loneliness or isolation.
Everyone could benefit from at least five good friends or supporters we can call on when in need. Your supporters are people you like, respect, trust, share common interests with and with whom you can share anything. You choose them yourself. Supporters can be family members, peers, friends, co-workers and health care providers. However, health care providers may be limited in the kind of support they can offer.
Support people can also count on us when they need a friend as well. When you begin your recovery, you may not have five supporters. This is okay. Gradually, through using various strategies we will discuss, the number of your supporters and their role in enhancing your wellness will increase.
“My support team is extremely important to my ongoing wellness. I keep good relationships with them by keeping appointments, being in touch, being honest, and not taking on more than I can handle.”
Supporters listen to you and let you express your feelings and emotions without judging or criticizing. Many people are not used to listening without making some comment about the content. They feel that if you are saying something, they need to tell you whether you are right or wrong and what you should do about it. This doesn’t help. Tell your supporters that if you want their advice and feedback, you will ask for it. Otherwise you just want them to listen. Being clear is the best way to get what you need and want for yourself.
In return, spend as much time listening to your supporters as they spent listening to you. Using exchange listening is a good way to insure that you both get equal time to be heard. Spend most of your time with supporters doing fun, interesting activities together, not just dealing with emotions and heavy issues. Often you meet supporters through shared interests. As the relationship proceeds, don’t forget to do those things that you enjoyed doing together when you first met.
“My support team is absolutely essential to my long term wellness. I never really think about ‘giving up’ anymore. They are always willing to listen — to both my joys and my sorrows. I maintain close relationships with them through regular phone calls.”
Your supporters allow you the space to change, grow, make decisions, and even mistakes. They allow and encourage you to express your feelings and emotions, as well as and your needs and wants. Don’t expect them to have you all figured out or to have all the answers for you.
Looking for more information about Building a Strong Support System?
Check out WRAP Plus and The Loneliness Workbook for Keys to Recovery and much, much more!
Staying Well Through Support – Explore how to build a strong support system; building support is a skill that can be learned. It is important to remember you have just as much value as anyone else and you deserve support, attention, respect and love. Build a strong Support Team. YOU can do it!
Maintaining Peer Support – Building a strong support system is only successful when you are able to maintain a support team.
Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, developed Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a group of people with lived experience who were attending a mental health recovery workshop in 1997. She is the original author of the WRAP Red Book, as well as dozens of other WRAP books and materials. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to learning from people who have mental health issues; discovering the simple, safe, non-invasive ways they get well, stay well, and move forward in their lives; and then sharing what she has learned with others through keynote addresses, trainings, and the development of books, curriculums, and other resources. Now that she is retired, and that, as she intended, others are continuing to share what she has learned, she continues to learn from those who have mental health issues and those who support them. She is a frequent contributor to this site.