Last Updated: February 2021
Many teenagers and their families are carrying the burden of anxiety, depression or substance abuse alone because building a mental health support network can be incredibly difficult for people overcoming a mental illness.
It can sometimes be difficult to connect with and trust others, but a mental health support network is essential to your teen’s recovery. So, how can you build your family’s network? Read these tips.
How to Find a Mental Health Support Network
The first step in seeking a mental health support network for your teen is learning to ask for help.
It can be challenging for many people to ask for support when there is such a stigma around mental health and substance use, but the more support your child has in life, the more likely they are to succeed.
Imagine that your teen daughter or son’s life right now is crossing a deep ravine with tiny, winding rapids way down below. If they try to do it by themselves, they get one rope to carefully tightrope walk across. However, as people like counselors, family members and mentors come alongside them, they get more ropes. The more people they add to their support network, the sturdier the rope becomes. With a mental health support network, they can confidently and safely walk the path to get them over the ravine and to the other side.
The more people they allow to support and help them in their journey, the safer their journey will be.
What to Look for When Building Your Teen’s Mental Health Support Network
It can be challenging to trust others with sensitive information, like your child’s mental health treatment, but generally, the people in your teen’s mental health support network should be people who are active listeners and who are willing to take your teen’s well-being seriously. They should be people that your family receives love and support from, and can be found in churches, schools, sports teams, or in other group activities.
When you are looking for specific people to add to your family’s mental health support network, look for people who have the following traits:
People in your teen’s network should be dependable. Consider people who are always there and people you can always count on, no matter what. They should be caring, reliable and trustworthy.
Look for people in your life who inspire your child – who are their everyday heroes? Who are the people they look up to, who inspires them (and maybe even you!) to be a better person? You want at least one of these people to be in your teen’s mental health support network because you want them to be inspired to be the best version of themselves.
Look for people in your life who make your teen daughter or son feel loved – the bare minimum requirement of anyone in your teen’s support network is that they care for and love your child and family.
Look for people in your life who make you and your child feel safe. We all need to feel safe, especially when it comes to trusting someone with your family’s mental health struggles. Think of the people in your life who make you and your teen feel comfortable, secure, and above all, safe.
Look for people who are already present in your and your child’s lives who you can trust. Do not include people who are in crisis themselves. Your teen is rebuilding their life, and they need people who they can fully trust to support them.
It’s important to keep in mind as you filter through people who fit these criteria, that the bigger your child’s mental health support network is, the safer their journey to healing will be.
The more people they have in their network, the more people they will have to call upon in times of need.
In addition, having your child recognize that so many people care about their mental health will remind them just how important they are, and how important this journey is.
Build a mental health support network to help your child on their road to wellness. Contact Embark Behavioral Health if you need additional support.