Dignity through peer support

This year, World Mental Health Day will raise awareness around what can be done to ensure that people with mental health support needs are able to live with dignity.

Estimations currently show that that only a quarter of people with mental health support needs in the UK seek and receive ongoing treatment, leaving the majority of people to grapple with uncertainty and to rely on the informal support of family and friends.

We want to challenge the barriers people face when asking for help by promoting the value of peer support.

Peer support enables people with mental health lived experience the opportunity to provide support and empathy to others.

We work in partnership with local organisations, funders, commissioners, CCGs and the Lambeth Living Well Collaborative to deliver a variety of peer support services.

Solidarity in a Crisis provides a 7-day, out-of-hours support line to people who are experiencing a mental health crisis. Our team has expanded since 2012 when it opened, and currently consists of 14 paid Peer Supporters covering Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark.

They have all completed a wide range of training courses, including Mental Health First Aid and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills, and receive ongoing training and development support. There are many wonderful individual stories of how peer supporters have seen their own recovery and well-being improve as well as how they have helped others. We have a truly astounding team with passion and commitment to promote recovery.

Rosetie, one of our Peer Supporters, speaks about her experiences in the video below.

Earlier this year, we were also delighted to launch our new Peer Support Network hub in Railton Road, Brixton to help grow peer support in the borough. By enabling people to build reciprocal relationships, network through social media and attend various community groups, we hope to inspire better connections and effective community support. It offers a variety of activities, including:

Beyond Prison adopts a holistic and person-centred approach to encapsulate what peer mentoring means, improving the mental wellbeing of prisoners, and reducing the likelihood of re-offending upon release into the local community, by focusing on strengths and assets. For some of the most marginalised people in our community, these experiences positively enhance the lives of their peers as well as having a significant impact upon their own journey.

The Work Pathways team supports a range of people with mental health support needs and learning disabilities to access education, training and employment opportunities. Their ETE (employment, training and education) trainee programme offers career opportunities to people with lived experience of mental health support that includes supporting others into paid employment.

We could go on and on about the various other services that have also been seen to effectively utilise peer support, but the fact of the matter is that it works. By working with the people we support, we can better understand how to help them, as well as many others in a far more dignified, understanding manner.