Peer support can be described as a type of support system where people use their experiences to help others out. Everyone’s experiences and views are equally valued and equally important. The support offered may be emotional, social, or practical. However, the support is often mutual and reciprocal and allows the peers to benefit regardless of whether they are offering support or receiving it. It creates a space that allows people to feel accepted and understood.
Peer support plays a key role in mental health by focusing on the strengths of the individual rather than on the weaknesses. This plays an important role in the wellbeing and recovery of the individual. Although the term “Peer Support” is relatively new, several forms of mutual support groups and self-help groups have been around for years. Recent studies have shown that peer-run self-help groups can yield improvement in psychiatric symptoms and even help decrease the requirement for hospitalization, improve self-esteem and social skills. Peer groups have been proven to help with several issues like:
- Relationship problems
- Anger issues
- Weight loss and so on.
Different Types Of Peer Support
It is classified into different categories as seen below:
This type of support involves a person with counseling skills, listening to a person. The supporter often has skills that include verbal and non-verbal communication, active listening, problem, and confidentiality solving. Peer support helps bring people with shared experiences together and support one another. Once the supporter has completed training, they can offer support on a formal basis.
Peer education involves educating peers on certain topics like coping with anxiety, depression, or addiction. This often takes place among a group of peers who have a similar background, status, and age.
During peer tutoring, the supporter helps a peer with their social or academic learning. The support can take place as paired writing, reading, or even be cross-curricular.
Under this system, a person who is trained acts as a mentor, friend, and guides people. For example, most universities appoint senior students to help new students ease into the new environment. According to the experts at https://www.pvfcinc.com/peer-youth-supports/ the role of a mentor is often a long term one when it comes to youth. Here the peer mentor, more or less becomes the listener, befriender, and mediator for the mentee.
Conflict resolution can also be carried out through peer support in the form of peer mediation. Peer mediators receive specific training in conflict resolution skills. They are trained to help their peers find solutions to disputes in informal and formal situations.
Benefits Of Peer Support
It has been observed to offer several advantages, like;
Communicating with people in the same situation
It is a great way to meet people who have been through what you are experiencing. They can offer their experience and are able to understand the lingo. Peers do not need to spell out anything specific since the group understands it as they have either lived through it or are living with it.
Learning From Others
Peer support puts you in touch with people who have gone through the same experiences as you. This helps you learn from their experiences and find out what works and what doesn’t. It also acts as a regular reminder that hope and healing are real and not out of reach.
First responders work throughout the day. If you find yourself needing to talk to someone, you will be able to find that person in your peer group. This support goes a long way to help people
Tools To Help
Dealing with serious issues like substance abuse, mental health issues or addiction can be made easier with the right tools and treatment. Peer support gives you access to these tools, enabling you to learn how to deal with the situation or issue you are facing.
Learning To Communicate
Many people who are facing serious issues like addiction, substance abuse, or mental health issues, find it difficult to communicate their feelings or what they are going through. Being a part of a peer group allows them to learn how to communicate and also find a safe place to communicate as well.
Increased Family Support
Families of people who are going through addiction, mental health disorders, or substance abuse can benefit immensely from these groups. They get access to plenty of resources to help them deal with the situation on hand.
Attention to Health Issues
Some health problems are common in certain regions or among certain professions. Being part of a peer group, allows people to know what to look for and thereby prevent or manage specific issues.
Direct Advice & No Judgment
Peer support is a great way to find direct advice related to specific issues. In fact, these groups have proven to help out in ways that mental health support or general addiction groups may not. One of the biggest advantages offered by peer support groups is that it has a no-judgment policy. It doesn’t matter what you have done, said, or been through. There will be others who have already gone through the same experiences earlier. You can share your experiences without fear of being judged. This has helped many people overcome their issues and lead meaningful lives.
To conclude, peer support can be a great way to help you open up and share your feelings and experiences with people who have had similar experiences. It plays a huge role in giving you access to ideas and approaches that have worked for others earlier. It is also beneficial in helping you feel that you are not the only one to go through this. People tend to feel lonely when they are facing different issues, peer support helps them come out of this and connect with others in similar situations. These support groups have time and again helped people build self-esteem and confidence. It also gives them hope for the future, which is imperative to succeed and overcome obstacles.