Explains what peer support is, what types there are, how it can help you and how to access it.
There are a number of different way to find and access a type of peer support that suits you. You can often start doing peer support without a referral from your GP, although there are some types of support that do need your GP to refer you.
You may be able to access peer support through:
Some NHS services run peer support groups. For example, this may be available within hospitals or organised by community mental health teams (CMHTs). You might need a referral from your GP to attend these types of support.
Your doctor or health care team might also have details of other support options in your area, such as charity or community groups.
There is a wide range of peer support available online. For example:
"It’s also helped me to feel more accepting and at peace with who I am."
Many community and third sector (charity) organisations provide peer support, although they're often not very well known and may not be easy to find.
These are some ideas to help you find out what may be available in your area:
If you live in a rural area, mental health services and support may be more spread out. Your nearest local Mind should be able to suggest the most convenient options.
There are also several organisations that help support rural communities which may be able to help you access peer support, including the Farming Community Network (FCN) and Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE).
Online support services like Mind's Side by Side Community can also be useful if you live in a rural area and struggle to find people who understand your experiences.
"The stories shared were a personal revelation. Behaviours and thoughts I had kept secret and hidden for years were being mirrored by the words of others."
If you attend a group or share your experience online, you're already a peer supporter. Even if you don't speak up often, your presence counts. In peer support, listening to others is as important as sharing your own experiences.
You might also decide to get more involved by:
This information was published in July 2019. We will revise it in 2022.
References and bibliography available on request.
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