Building a good support network

A good support network is vital for everyone, depressed or not. Identify how the various people in your life can provide support and build on this by seeking out the many other possible sources of support.

Identify a range of support options

Different people offer different kinds of support. Some people are good for doing things with and distractions, others are good for listening and understanding. Some things are best dealt with by a professional. A good support network has a variety of people you can turn to for a variety of forms of support:

  • friends (at uni and back home)
  • family
  • personal tutors
  • student union reps
  • student services staff
  • mental health professionals

Make a list

Brainstorm everyone you can think of who could potentially be part of your network. Include people to have fun with, people to study with, people at home or elsewhere away from uni, people to talk to, people you live with, people in your academic department, student union and student services staff and anyone else you can think of. Remember to challenge any depressed thinking getting in the way.

Be realistic about what each person on the list can offer. Don’t expect just one friend or boyfriend/girlfriend to be your constant companion and counsellor 24/7. It is not fair on them and it also doesn’t give you the security of a range of support options.

Unless your family members are a major source of your difficulties then you should probably include them near the top of your list. Using the excuse that you ‘don’t want to worry them’ does not make sense – parents and other family members are much more likely to want to know if there is something wrong, and to do what they can to help.

Help people to help you

Not everyone understands about how depression works, so if your family or friends are keen to be supportive, help them out by giving them some info – you could print a copy of the ‘Worried about someone else?’ page, or they could read parts of this website, for example. It also helps if you are really clear about what kind of support you would like from each person.

If you are moderately to severely depressed, and especially if you feel you are at any risk to yourself, then you should put seeking help from a professional like a doctor or counsellor at the top of your list.

Next: Counsellors & doctors

Take Action

Support network planner

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