People affected by mental health issues, including families, friends and carers often say that peer support was very helpful to them on their journey towards recovery. People who have ‘been there’ have knowledge and expertise based on their own lived experience. Sharing this knowledge can help others to understand their own experience and move forward.
“Peer support is not like clinical support, and it is more than just being friends. In peer support we understand each other because we’ve ‘been there,’ shared similar experiences and can model for each other a willingness to learn and grow. We come together with the intention of changing unhelpful patterns, getting out of ‘stuck’ places, and building relationships that are respectful, mutually responsible, and, potentially, mutually transforming. This allows us to try out new behaviours with one another and move beyond the ‘illness culture’, where we are defined as sick and disabled, into a culture of health and ability.” (Mead and Copeland, 2004)
Research shows that peer support improves recovery outcomes for people, including:
- improved hope
- increased self-esteem
- improved advocacy skills
- a sense of connection and belonging
- reduction in clinical symptoms
If you are looking for peer support, consider:
- asking your mental health service if peer support is available
- researching peer support groups in your local area
- accessing helpful online resources from people with lived experience
- attending a peer-facilitated education program
If you need to talk, call our Helpline.
Learn more about:
- other things that might help
- causes and contributing factors
- mental illness
- support for families, friends and carers
- the importance of identity and belonging
- our peer education programs
- our community education programs
- our research on community inclusion
Remember, you are not alone. Hear stories from people who have been there.
For more information, please contact Wellways on 1300 111 400.