If you have, or believe you may have, a mental health problem, it can be helpful to talk about it with others. It can be scary to reach out for help, but it’s often the first step to helping you heal, grow, and recover.

Build your support system
Find someone—such as a parent, family member, teacher, faith leader, coworker or healthcare provider who:

  • Gives good advice when you want and ask for it
  • Assists you in taking action that will help and doesn’t escalate bad feelings
  • Likes, respects and trusts you, and who you like, respect and trust, too
  • Allows you the space to change, grow, make decisions, and even make mistakes
  • Listens to you and shares with you, both the good and bad times
  • Respects your need for confidentiality so you can tell him or her anything
  • Lets you freely express your feelings and emotions without judging, teasing, or criticizing
  • Works with you to figure out what to do the next time a difficult situation comes up
  • Has your best interest in mind

Find a peer group
Find a group of people with mental health problems similar to yours who are taking care of the problems in a positive way. Peer support relationships can positively affect individual recovery because:

  • People who have common life experiences have a unique ability to help each other based on a shared history and a deep understanding that may go beyond what exists in other relationships
  • People offer their experiences, strengths, and hopes to peers, which allows for natural evolution of personal growth, wellness promotion, and recovery
  • Peers can be very supportive since they have “been there” and serve as living examples that individuals can and do recover from mental health problems
  • Peers also serve as advocates and support others who may experience discrimination and prejudice

You may want to start or join a self-help or peer support group. National organizations across the country have peer support networks and peer advocates. Find an organization that can help you connect with peer groups and other peer support.

Participate in your treatment decisions
It’s also important for you to be educated, informed, and engaged about your own mental health. Get involved in your treatment through shared decision making. Participate fully with your mental health provider and make informed treatment decisions together includes:

  • Recognizing a decision needs to be made
  • Identifying partners in the process as equals
  • Stating options as equal
  • Exploring understanding and expectations
  • Identifying preferences
  • Negotiating options/concordance
  • Sharing decisions
  • Arranging follow-up to evaluate decision-making outcomes

Develop a recovery plan
Recovery is a process of change where individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. Studies show that most people with mental health problems get better, and many recover completely.

You may want to develop a written recovery plan. Recovery plans:

  • Enable you to identify goals for achieving wellness
  • Specify what you can do to reach those goals
  • Can be daily activities as well as longer term goals
  • Track your mental health problem
  • Identify triggers or other stressful events that can make you feel worse, and help you learn how to manage them

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This blog post is for your information only. It is not meant to give medical advice. It should not be used to replace a visit with a provider. Should you require specific help or feel that you are in crisis, you should seek the assistance of an appropriately trained professional.