For those who are diagnosed with a mental health concern and who grapple with its symptoms, the presence of an understanding and caring social support group can make a significant difference in the quality and speed of recovery. Whether it’s a sympathetic family member or a small group of close friends, such support is often hailed as a major component of feeling connected while going through the rigors of psychotherapy or other types of treatment. But sometimes, this support isn’t available when clients reach out for it, an experience that can lead to confusion, anger, and disillusionment, as recently reported in a column at The Huffington Post. When clients are affected by thoughts, feelings, and behaviors which seem to encourage a sense of loneliness or alienation, this inability to find support among friends and family can come as an especially difficult blow.
The column reminds mental health clients that the choice of disclosure is their own, and that telling friends and family about a diagnosis, a choice of treatment, or the suspicion of symptoms should be an entirely personal –and well-considered– choice. When clients do not feel comfortable discussing their concerns with their regular sources of social support, or in the event that they feel rejected or misunderstood by those close to them, suggests the column, they may find the help they need in community or institutional support groups focused on the mental health concern at hand. As social stigma and prejudices against mental health issues continue despite considerable international efforts to phase out misunderstandings and apprehensions, clients may find that the road to recovery is not always naturally flanked by friends –but that steps can be taken to gain valuable support.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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