Local mental health charity Solent Mind celebrates pioneering peer support work for people with mental health problems
On 18th May 2017, local mental health charity Solent Mind held an event to release new research findings about the difference community peer support can make for people with mental health problems. Peer support can include one-to-one mentoring, groups, online communities, social groups or self-help groups.
Mind worked alongside St George’s, University of London, The McPin Foundation and the London School of Economicsto undertake a major new piece of research into peer support led by communities. The project heard from over 750 people across nine areas of England and found that access to peer support improves people’s wellbeing and helps them manage their mental health problem. With one in four people experiencing a mental health problem every year, and three quarters of those people not accessing services, new research into support for people with mental health problems is vital.
The research found that being involved in peer support helps people choose what kind of support they would like for their mental health problem and what works best for them. It also found that being involved in peer support can help reduce other healthcare costs, such as the use of hospital by people with mental health problems.
Mind has launched an online resource called ‘Making sense of peer support’ which includes advice on where to find local peer support groups.
In Hampshire, Solent Mind facilitates peer support groups in Southampton, the New Forest, Portsmouth and at its Wellbeing Centres in Eastleigh, Winchester and Fareham. Activities for groups include arts & crafts, singing, walking and swimming.
Kevin Gardner, Solent Mind CEO, said, “We know from our peer support work across Hampshire that these groups really help people develop their own strategies to manage the pressures of everyday life. We welcome this evaluation of peer support by Mind and our academic research partners. Lessons learned from the evaluation will inform our next steps in developing peer support through projects such as our new two year partnership with the Southern Co-operative and our Support and Recovery Service with Solent NHS Trust in Portsmouth.”
Notes to editors
Solent Mind’s Hampshire peer support groups: Our groups are led by our trained volunteers who have all experienced mental health issues. This means you are able to talk openly and honestly with people who truly understand. All our groups are friendly, informal and low cost, and you don’t need any skills or experience to join in.
Our Peer Support groups are open to anyone living in the Southampton or New Forest area with a mental health issue. Groups also run at our Portsmouth Wellbeing Centre. You do not need to be under the care of a mental health team to access the support and there is no commitment to come every week.
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Side by Side – Peer support project
Side by Side is a two-year nationwide pilot scheme led by Mind, in partnership with Bipolar UK, to explore the benefits of peer support for people with mental health problems. Peer support is the name used to describe support given and received on an equal basis, by people who share something in common. For mental health problems this can include befriending, mentoring and support groups or forums. The £3.2 million was awarded to the programme by the Big Lottery Programme and included funding for 37 grant projects in nine areas of England. It aimed to increase awareness of peer support across England, to find further evidence of its effectiveness and encourage local services to offer peer support.
Mind also has an online support community, Elefriends, which offers a platform for where people can share and talk about feelings.
We know that lots of people find online forums helpful, particularly if they are unable to confide in friends or don’t have strong social networks. We would encourage those people to visit online peer support networks like Mind’s Elefriends online support community (elefriends.org.uk) where people can discuss their problems with others who are going through similar experiences and talk about potential solutions.
Elefriends is a safe community and ‘elefriends’ log in via their Facebook account or private username and password. It is moderated by ‘the Elephant’ but the elefriends look out for each other too, and can flag up problems if necessary.