Friendships are some of the most valuable relationships you’ll have. The picture above is the group of girls that have held me up, called me out and make me laugh until it hurts. My mum…she is my everything and my three closest friends I’ve known since school and college days, all have different personalities but they all have one thing in common which is that they form part of my support network.
The relationships you form, whether it is from friends, family or your partner, they can form a vital element to the protection of your mental health. These people will help keep you grounded and give perspective when your thoughts and emotions feel overwhelming. Your support network can help you overcome feeling isolated.
It may seem daunting talking about your mental health with the people closest to you for fear of judgement or lack of understanding and this fear can cause further isolation. If you don’t currently feel comfortable disclosing your problems, there are other ways you can form a support network.
Finding peer support groups may help as these are usually people with lived experience of mental health issues. Everyone’s experience of mental health conditions are different. In a peer support group, you can share how you’re feeling and exchange suggestions of coping strategies. With BAME in mind, peer support groups in ethnic communities can encourage discussions about mental health and wellbeing and the additional factors that come into play, i.e. culture, finding ways to cope that fit with any religious beliefs, racism in society.
Example Peer support groups in BAME communities:
- 300 Voices project, currently being piloted in the West Midlands, is intended specifically for younger African-Caribbean men
- Southall Black Sisters include mental health support among their work with BAME women.
- “Like the Old Days” Peer support group for African men over 55 years old
- The South Asian mental health service at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLAM)
- Sharan, an organisation for Asian women, includes a community forum
Supporting a friend with their mental health
Mental health.org website have some great tips on how to support a friend that is going through mental health problems and lists some other forms of support if you don’t want to tell your friends about your mental health: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/f/friendship-and-mental-health