Peer support is a type of self-care that people often undertake without even realising. Do you ever turn to friends or family for social, practical or emotional support? Do you rely on friends, family, or other acquaintances for their knowledge of certain aspects of life and local living? Peer support is essentially turning to others for help, especially if they have their own experience in the area.
Take parenting as an example. How many parents out there turn to their mums, dads, siblings, grandparents, friends, forums, social media pages for advice? There’s very few of us who actually make every single decision for ourselves. We like to find out what has worked for others. This is peer support.
How can peer support help your mental health?
Most people feel a lot more positive after having a good moan. It’s good to vent, to let off steam, and a lot of that comes from expressing your true feelings and opinions. Sometimes, especially when it comes down to mental health, we find it incredibly hard to do so. What’s the point, they won’t understand. This is where peer support comes into play.
There are so many people out there who know what you are going through; who have been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and are willing to listen to you and impart some advice and encouragement. Speaking to others and hearing their stories makes you realise that it’s true what they say – you are not alone. Knowing there is somebody you can talk to when things get really rough is such a massive boost to your mental health…it makes your world feel so much less lonely.
Online peer support
There is such a vast spectrum of forums online, that cover pretty much every topic imaginable. One example is Mind’s Elefriends which is a ‘supportive online community where you can be yourself’
Social media has a large part to play, especially Facebook with its massive number of pages and communities that you can be a part of it. Twitter is another valuable resource, with many different hashtag communities and ‘Twitter hours’.
My favourite Twitter hour at the moment is #PNDHour which was started by Rosey over at PND & Me and runs every Wednesday 8-9pm, along with #PNDchat which is a fantastic peer support community.
Mind has a list of mental health hashtags that you might find helpful.
Face to face peer support
Face to face peer support appears to be losing popularity, probably due to the rise in anxiety regarding how others view you. There are still options available though, from group counselling sessions to mentoring and simply having someone there to meet up and have a chat with. Your GP should be able to give you a list of groups in your area, or at least point you in the right direction. You can also have a look at Mind and Together UK as places to start.
You can find more of the Self-Care Series here:
- 20 Activities For Your Self-Care List
- Why is Self-Care Important?
- What is Self-Care?