Zara talks about her experience of peer support and connecting with people who had similar experiences to her own.
Zara lives in Newport in South Wales. She is now working with Newport Mind on a new peer support project in Wales.
I’ve lived with anxiety for as long as I can remember. It certainly runs in the family, and looking back my mum and her mum both struggled with their mental health.
In 2017 I became aware that my daughter was also struggling with her mental health and I wanted to get her help and quickly. She was referred to CAMHS and had counselling but nothing seemed to work for her.
Last year, the counsellor referred us to Newport Mind’s Kith and Kin course. This is an 8 week course for parent/carers and their young people. It is designed to help understand each other’s mental health, learn to communicate more effectively, discuss boundaries, structure and consequences, as well as responsibilities, safety and support. It’s an opportunity for people in similar situations to share their experiences and learn from each other.
"I can honestly say that we both feel that the knowledge we took from the course changed our lives."
Throughout those 8 weeks the parent/carers supported one another emotionally, (the staff were pretty good too!) and it felt good to be able to share our experiences with others who understood.
Those first couple of weeks after the course finished felt odd. We missed sharing with the others. We had been encouraged to keep in touch after the course finished and we kept in touch using social media. It was so good to be able to continue to share our experiences and support each other. We could share when we had a difficult day, or that we’d overcome something. We could speak freely with no judgements because we’d had similar experiences and we knew how each other felt.
I suggested that we meet up for a coffee and we’ve done this a few times now. It’s comforting to know that I have someone to talk to who ‘gets it’.
"We remind one another of what we learnt when we need to, bounce ideas and just share the ups and downs of parenting."
I know that this is a group of friends that I will have for many years to come. I hope that we will continue to support one another through new stages of our lives.
Read about anxiety and panic attacks
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