Friends Support Friends: Benefits Of Supportive Friendship
Mental illness can make a person feel isolated and alone. It leaves you vulnerable and incapable of expressing your feelings adequately to others around you. At least it makes you feel that way. Most times, a situation arises where you either shut yourself off and keep your struggles to yourself. Or, you are faced with another human being telling you that others have it worse than you.
One of the more positive effects of people battling mental illness more publicly is, people are faced with acknowledging how they interact with their friends or family members that are battling this silent demon. Many of the relevant psychological bodies have found that maintaining a healthy relationship with friends is actually beneficial for coping with your mental illness.
The Benefits Of A Supportive Friend
The American Psychiatric Association indicates that maintaining healthy and “friends support friends“ friendships may help someone who has experienced an episode of psychosis. Psychosis is defined as the impairment of a person’s thoughts and emotions in a manner that affects their external reality (e.g. Schizophrenia). It may induce hallucinations, delusions, a lack of energy, and a lack of interest in interactions or daily activities.
In a 2017 study, individuals that experienced an episode of psychosis were followed for two years. The researchers found that individuals who had more frequent social interactions with friends were more likely to recover. This study concluded that friendships provide both practical support and emotional support.
Friends Support Friends: A Supplement To Professional Help
These relationships should not replace seeking professional help. Instead, they should be used along with their guidance and other healthy coping mechanisms. Other health professionals confirm that healthy and supportive friendships can lead to a more fulfilling mental and physical state. In some cases, it was found that insufficient social support worsened mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.
For instance, a test was done with individuals at the base of a hill, some were standing close to their friends, others were standing alone. The testers asked the group how long it would take them to climb the hill; the times given were shorter for the persons who were in close proximity to their friends. While the people who stood alone gave a longer time to complete the task. When we are surrounded by persons we feel have our best interest at heart, we are inclined to strive for better for ourselves. We are more likely to push towards a better outcome.
Learning To Lean On Your Friends
While going through the darkest moments, it doesn’t always register that you can reach out to friends. Sometimes it’s even harder to remember that friendships are a two-way street. The act of maintaining and forming new friendships encourages you to build your confidence. You deserve to have people who love and support you outside of your familial bonds. You are a wonderful person, and people spending time with you is never a wasted effort.
Tips For Being A Supportive Friend (Friends Support Friends)
Some tips for the friends of someone who is suffering from mental illness, common among mental health experts, are as follows:
- Listening. Often your friend just needs a listening ear. They need someone who is judgment-free and not focused on pulling them out of their slump.
- Show Your Support | Just Be There. Let your friend know that you acknowledge their struggle. Physically present yourself to be there with them if necessary (once they are okay with it).
- Do Your Research | Ask How You Can Help. Express interest in how your friend is coping with their mental health disorder will show that you value them.
- Give Reassurance. Reassure them that you still love and care for them, in spite of their struggles.
We live in a society where people talk about losing friends and having toxic friendships more than they do positive, impactful ones. It is always important to celebrate the positive things, and people, in life and not foster an atmosphere of negativity. The more we put positive healthy friendships into practice, the more likely we are to reap the positive rewards.
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