A support network refers to those people in your life that help you achieve your personal and professional goals.
Why is it important to have a good support network?
When it comes to our mental health and wellbeing, studies have shown that having a good support network with strong relationships you can count on, is vital. Feeling a sense of Belonging (intimate relationships, friends) is the third step in our basic human needs behind Physiological needs (food, water, warmth, rest) and Safety needs (security, safety) as described by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Family, friends and work colleagues all make up your support network and offer pillars of support during both happy and difficult times, helping us feel socially connected to a larger social group.
It is important to have a support network made up of different people. This helps us to see problems in a number of different ways, giving us a more complete picture of the situation. Having just one person in your support network is not enough as you may over-rely on them and exhaust that person.
All of us will encounter a time when our existing support network is inadequate. Moving home, becoming a new parent, or even just wanting to take up a new hobby are all examples of when you may need to add to your support network. As a first step, recognize the supports that are currently present in your life which you can approach, and depending on your need, create a list of people you already know and the strengths and contacts they can offer. Once completed you can start to look further afield at your local community or online.
Tips to create your support network
A close-knit family can be a great source of support from people who want you to succeed and are willing to offer time and advice.
Being close to someone with whom you have an established relationship, makes them ideal for your support network.
With any educational or career development needs, introduce yourself to people at your job, or counsellors from Human Resources who may be able to help you reach your goals.
- Neighbours, acquaintances and friends of friends
Use your existing network to identify and build further connections with neighbours, acquaintances and friends of friends.
- Social Media and Facebook/MeetUp Groups
The internet provides a plethora of support opportunities. No matter what you’re looking for, there will no doubt be an existing group, community or forum you can join for support.
- Local Community
Becoming actively involved in your local community is a great way to meet new people and develop connections. Community clubs, sporting groups, volunteering, even participating in play dates and car pools are all ways to become part of a new community.
Remember, different people offer different kinds of support, so the more people you have in your network, the better the opportunity for friendship and support.
Keep in touch with loved ones, friends and mentors on a regular basis. Remember to ask your support network about their lives, and their careers. Support is a two-way street, so share your talents as well.
Putting in the time and effort to build and maintain your relationships, will allow you to enjoy the positive benefits of strong connections with the people in your life.
If you need support, call Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
If it is an emergency, call 000.