This article originally appeared in the South London Press on 17/10/16.
We are only two weeks into the Change Is Possible mental health appeal – but have already received feedback of a fantastic response from readers of the South London Press and London Weekly News.
Within just a few days of launching the campaign, the first fundraising milestone of £2,000 has been almost doubled.
This money can make a huge difference to Londoners living with mental health problems by funding one of our “vital” peer support groups.
Over the coming weeks and months, the campaign will continue to shine a spotlight on mental health while working to raise funds to support our work in the community.
Ajay Khandelwal, chief executive at Lambeth and Southwark Mind, explains here why peer support groups are so important in aiding recovery and helping people to stay healthy together.
“For many people experiencing mental distress, the most helpful means of working through the complex problems they face is to share them with people who have had similar experiences in their own lives.
That’s why peer support is such a vital resource for helping people to improve their mental health. As a source of mutual trust, empathy and respect, peer support can help to reduce the feelings of isolation and helplessness that can accompany and exacerbate depression, anxiety and other more acute mental health conditions.
Lambeth and Southwark Mind offers a range of facilitated peer support groups which run on either a weekly or fortnightly basis from our delivery spaces in Brixton and Camberwell.
Some of these groups are open to anybody and everybody residing in the communities we serve; others are aimed at individuals from more specific backgrounds and localities.
In bringing together people who have suffered the same effects of mental health conditions- as well as the same forms of stigma- we look to create inclusive and welcoming spaces in which people can feel comfortable about opening up about their experiences and feelings should they wish to, without the fear of being judged.
The groups also provide the opportunity to share advice on coping systems and, over time, develop genuine friendships with other people who truly understand what living with mental distress is like.
One of our service users summed up the value of peer support when he told me: “My salvation has been a weekly meet-up near where I live, which I look forward to every week. They are like a family to me.” “
Jack Dixon from the South London Press shares his hopes for the Change Is Possible campaign…
“Our Change Is Possible campaign aims to promote and protect good mental health for everyone in south London, helping to shape a community that makes sure people with experience of mental health problems are treated fairly, positively and with respect.
South London Press, London Weekly News and Lambeth and Southwark Mind are committed to raising awareness about the complex mental health problems that many people in our community face, and working together to expand and improve the range of support available.
We aim to put a stop to the stigma around mental health – at home, at work and at school – and to break down the barriers that prevent people from seeking help.”