What is peer support?

Peer support is the coming together of individuals in a safe, confidential and non-judgmental space to discuss their experiences and share useful information in order to try and help each other through difficult times. It can take place on a one-to-one basis, in a group or even online.

Many mental health and community organisations offer peer support groups as a service. In some cases, these groups are open to anybody who wants to come along; other groups may focus on helping people from a particular background, with particular interests, or with a particular diagnosis. All peer support groups, however, need a common reason for meeting and rely on the existence of shared mutual respect between members.

How can peer support help me?

Talking about your experiences with peers might help you to:

Open up about feelings and challenges that you don’t feel comfortable talking about in other places

  • Learn new coping techniques
  • Increase your confidence and sense of self-esteem
  • Find a sense of belonging in a community of like-minded people
  • Develop a new social and support network.

It’s good to talk to people with the same condition, we share feelings and coping methods.

Is peer support right for me?

It might be helpful to think about the following before you decide to go down the route of peer support:

Sharing – do I feel comfortable talking about my experiences with others?

Listening – am I comfortable with hearing about the experiences of others?

Format – would I find talking to peers preferable to speaking to a therapist or professional?

Timing – am I well enough for peer support at this moment in time?

It gives continuity. The same people, same faces. And I like that.

If you think a peer support group could help you, take a look at the peer support groups offered by Lambeth and Southwark Mind.

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