Peer support is a key component within our services at Unmasked Mental Health being a third of the services we offer and something the founders are particularly passionate about. We currently run 8 hubs across the UK with numerous hubs looking to open in the coming weeks and are continuously looking for various locations for new hubs.
The whole concept of peer support is centred around individuals bringing their own personal knowledge of an experience, such as mental health, with others who feel similar and enables a space where people feel understood and accepted (Mind, 2021, Samsha, 2017).
Yes, it does work because it is considered as a vital part of recovery within mental health as it helps many individuals move through difficult situations through discussion about what is troubling them (Reissman, 1989 in MacNeil and Mead, 2004). Although there are numerous services out there, peer support is recognised as being useful through offering practical advice and suggestions to each other, with an understanding of similar experiences, in a way that professionals may not offer or know about (Macneil and Mead, 2004).
This is one of the main attractions of peer support, the fact it is from a non-professional vantage point is considered crucial in helping people rebuild their sense of community through rapports with others and even developing friendships (Macneil and Mead, 2004). Peer support encourages healing and recovery by opening up about what is bothering you and being able to relate to those around you (Curtis, Hilton and Mead, 2001).
Peer support groups are a great place for individuals to try if they feel traditional mental health support has failed to work. At Unmasked, we have witnessed first-hand how our peer support hubs really do work and have a significant impact on individuals lives, with attendees at the hubs describing the sessions with words such as ‘therapeutic, ‘inspirational’ and even ‘life-changing’, further reiterating the influence the hubs have.
This is one of the reasons that keeps the team at Unmasked constantly promoting all our services but especially our hubs, because they do make a difference to peoples lives. Together we can help to make a difference by offering support to each other, let's unmask the stigma surrounding mental health.
Our hubs run every Thursday evening in various locations, check out our 'Hubs’ tab for more information!