As a facilitator of a peer support group for men who have experienced anxiety and/or depression, I have come to discover there are many benefits of peer support groups. In this post I’d like to mention a few.
First, peer groups provide encouragement and support.
Second, participants come to learn that they are not alone in their struggles.
Third, there is level of understanding and empathy that can only be provided by those with common lived experiences.
Fourth, individuals are more likely to be courageously vulnerable because the power gradient among peers is lower compared to the typical power hierarchy in client-provider healthcare relationships.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada underscores the value of peer support:
Peer support initiatives can have a great impact on a person’s journey of recovery. The relationship forged between the peer supporter and the person with a mental health problem or illness can help improve quality of life as well as reduce the need for hospitalization.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada also believes that peer support is undervalued.
I wholeheartedly agree. Perhaps it’s because I have experienced and continue to experience its transformative effects on people’s lives.