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How communities play a key role in mental health recovery

Updated: Feb 8

This blog post will discuss the different types of communities that people can find and explore their functions and benefits. 

Illustration of a hand reaching out to another hand, symbolizing support and community in mental health recovery
"Communities are vital in mental health recovery. Let's extend our hands in support and solidarity. Together, we can overcome challenges and foster healing.

Introduction:

Mental Health issues can be a struggle for anyone and everyone. It can be a long road to recovery, especially if someone feels that they must walk it alone. However, the role of communities in that recovery is often overlooked. Humans are social beings by nature, and communities are what come out of this need. As part of the recovery process, these are essential. These people can act as lifelines and also help them learn the early warning signs of themselves starting to struggle again. They can also be the first contact point.


These can all be used for a wide range of Mental Health issues, such as Depression and anxiety. Addiction and Eating Disorders.


Different types of Communities:

Family and Friends: The people you trust and cherish the most are your family and friends. They may not be Mental Health professionals, but they can be a good source of comfort and support, be that through small things like helping clean your room and also general support when your mental health begins to deteriorate, including coping mechanisms and support in finding a therapist. These usually are the first line of people you would think of when you think of ‘community’. Also, they can research further support (such as what will be discussed below) and learn more about what you are struggling with.


Therapy Groups: These tend to be more traditionally what people think of when the words ‘community’ and ‘mental health’ are used together. There can be large or small groups where people sit (most commonly in a circle) and tell their stories at their own pace. The process of finding them is similar to that of finding a therapist.


We all need help from time to time. It can sometimes take that first instance of opening up for you to get the support you need.


Online Groups: These can be groups of people who are licensed professionals or people who are sharing resources. They can be tracked and contacted online through various platforms & websites, such as Tumblr blogs dedicated to them or websites like the Project C Foundation, which hold resources and blogs to give advice and resources (like the post you are reading). 

Illustration of diverse hands in various colors and sizes, symbolizing community support and inclusivity in mental health recovery
Strength in diversity: Communities come together to support mental health recovery. Each hand plays a unique role in fostering healing and resilience.

Functions and use of each type of Community:


Family and Friends: Starting a conversation about your feelings can be a simple yet daunting task. However, it is an essential first step, and you should feel proud of yourself for doing it. This conversation can be initiated at any time, and it can be a good way to seek further help. By letting your friends and family know about your feelings, they can make a plan on how to support you.


Therapy Groups: These groups typically consist of individuals who are facing similar challenges, such as addiction. The meetings usually run for an hour or two, providing a safe and supportive environment for participants to share their experiences. While opening up is encouraged, individuals are not obligated to do so. The typical duration of these groups is two months, with the possibility of extension if the participants feel they require further support.


Online Groups: Online support groups can greatly help improve your mental well-being, especially if you prefer to remain anonymous. By joining such groups, you can share your problems and seek solutions without revealing your identity. Different organizations have different approaches to sharing information and resources on mental health. For instance, Project C may provide blog posts on specific topics, while others may offer a list of resources for further outreach. Tumblr blogs, on the other hand, usually provide advice, share resources, and answer questions from people looking for advice on mental health struggles like depression and anxiety. This way, you can quickly find the information and resources you need.


Therapy can be a daunting idea to anyone. When in groups, it can be easier to cope with a situation as you are not alone.


Illustration of a therapy session with one person sitting and another person lying down, symbolizing support and guidance in mental health recovery
In community therapy sessions, we find solace and support in each other's presence. Together, we navigate the path to mental health recovery.

How these Communities help in improving mental well-being:


Family and Friends: One of the primary advantages of forming a group with people you already know and trust is the strong bond that naturally exists between all members. This bond allows you to open up and share your problems without hesitation easily. You know that they will support you unconditionally. They are the pillars of your life who stand firm and help you to heal mentally and emotionally.


In addition to providing emotional support, such groups can help members educate themselves, share prior knowledge and experience, and provide support whenever required. Overall, forming a group with people you trust can be incredibly beneficial for personal growth and development.


Therapy Groups: A sense of community is naturally developed in therapy groups. You meet with a group of people going through similar struggles, which helps you realize that you are not alone in your struggle. A qualified professional leads the group, who might have experienced similar struggles themselves. Each person is given the opportunity to share their feelings and struggles and receive compassion and support in return. This also allows you to build friendships with other participants, which in turn helps to build a stronger sense of community.


Online Groups: Online groups can be helpful for those struggling with mental health issues. Some groups, such as Project C Foundation, have licensed professionals to assist. However, most groups, particularly on Tumblr, are run by individuals who have gone through similar struggles. These groups are dedicated to mental health awareness and employ specific tags for different types of struggles. The advantage of these groups is that they provide almost instant access to resources and advice. Other groups outside of Tumblr offer projects themed around mental health support and have professional support, with most being free.


Conclusion

There are many different communities, each with its own benefits to help you recover mentally. While they all branch off with their functions and uses, they all have the same goal in mind: to support you with resources and allow you to find a way forward. 



Written By: Jamie Clarke

Edited By: Sadaf Iqbal



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