• Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford

Mental Illness and Friendships: 5 Key Benefits

Establishing and maintaining friendships can have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being, however, it's not always easy to build or maintain friendships when you carry an active mental health disorder. Having good friendships can be very good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times, provide support during bad times, help you focus in on what is truly important, help with reducing anxiety, and stabilizing mood. Healthy friendships can also limit the likelihood of self-isolating, prevent loneliness and feelings of abandonment, and give those suffering from mental illness the love and companionship they desperately need to stay or manage a mental health crisis. When it comes to friendships, quality counts more than quantity. While it's good to cultivate a diverse network of friends and acquaintances, you may also want to nurture a few truly close friends who will be there for you through both sunshine and stormy weather.

Unfortunately, as we age and mature it often becomes increasingly challenging to establish and maintain true and authentic friendships. Like most things in life friendships often take a back seat to other priorities, such as romantic relationships, work, caring for children, or caring for aging parents. Realistically, even when there are no mental health issues involved a lot of friendships will end as some friends grow apart due to changes in their life, career, or interests. Developing and maintaining good friendships takes effort. The enjoyment and comfort friendship can provide, however, makes the investment worthwhile.

5 Benefits of Healthy Friendships Include:

  • Regulation or stabilization of moods

  • Increased the sufferers sense of belonging and purpose

  • Help with the reduction of anxious feelings

  • Improve confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth

  • Help the sufferer cope with significant life changes such as the death of a loved one, divorce or other relationship issues, trauma, etc.

When someone has a mental health disorder or are experiencing a mental health crisis, it is important to try to keep friendships going, even though people with mental health problems often want to see their friends less than usual. A lot of people with mental health disorders self-isolate from friends and family once they become actively symptomatic. Healthy friendship can play a key role in helping someone live with or recover from a mental health disorder and overcome both the isolation and challenges that often comes with it. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when a friend becomes actively symptomatic, prompting us to want to give up on our friend and the friendship, however, as difficult as it may be to support them through the crisis it may be well worth it for you as well as those suffering. Many people who do manage to keep their friendship going in spite of the challenges feel that the quality of the relationship had become stronger as a result.

#mentalillness #mentaldisorders #Friendships #Benefits

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