Peer support

Explains what peer support is, what types there are, how it can help you and how to access it.

Your stories

Joining a support group

Jim blogs about joining his local support group.

Posted on 28/09/2016

Finding a place to fit in

Sue blogs about finding a place to fit in at her local peer support group.

Posted on 28/09/2016

Peer support for specific groups

You may find it useful to share your experiences with people who understand other aspects of your life as well as your mental health. If you are a member of a particular group in society, you may feel more comfortable talking to other members of that group.

This page covers:

Peer support may be particularly useful if you haven't had good experiences with traditional mental health services. Specific groups may focus on building a community, talking about your emotional wellbeing more, or finding ways to cope that fit with any religious beliefs you may have.

It’s also helped me to feel more accepting and at peace with who I am.

LGBTQ people

There are a number of support services for LGBTQ people, many of which support people with mental health problems. They will often be able to direct you towards peer support services and the support nearest to you.

  • MindOut is a specialist mental health service run by and for LGBTQ people that at can offer advice on peer support groups, and offers support via the telephone and online.
  • Switchboard LGBT+ helpline provides information and support and is staffed by volunteers who identify as LGBT.
  • Stonewall have a database of local groups you can search by topic and area.

You can find more useful contacts on our page on LGBTQ mental health.

BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) people

Specific groups may focus on building a community, talking about your emotional wellbeing more, or finding ways to cope that fit with any religious beliefs you may have.

Other BAME people may also have a greater insight into challenging experiences, such as racism in society and the mental health system. If you find it difficult to trust your GP or other services, peer support can provide a safe space to get support.

Other groups that may be able to assist are:

Your local Mind, or Mind’s Infoline, will also be able to help you find out what's available. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) also provides a number of links to groups for specific communities.

Older people

Mental health, particularly depression and loneliness, is increasingly recognised as an important issue for older people. You can find peer support through:

  • Age UK who run a telephone befriending service, as well as peer support and befriending services through local Age UKs
  • Mental Health Foundation’s Standing Together
  • Your local Mind, or Mind’s Infoline, will also be able to help find out what's available in your area

Children and young people

You may already use social media sites as a way to share your experience and get support, but you might prefer to find support more specific to mental health.

You could try:

  • YoungMinds, who offer a range of peer support services for younger people.
  • Online organisations like The Mix, who aim to support young people in general, including with mental health problems.
  • Several experience-specific organisations have resources for young people, for example Beat, a charity for people who experience eating disorders.

See our pages on online support for more information on staying safe online and finding support.

That shared experience of helping someone you don't know and having them open up to you is a wonderful, life-affirming experience.


This information was published in June 2016. We will revise it in 2019.


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