The purpose of this paper is to look at peer support in the context of broader communities.
It builds on the author’s experience working with the Mental Health Foundation of developing delivering and evaluating several self-management and peer support initiatives in a variety of settings with a range of different peer groups. It will consider what constitutes a peer and a community, and explore the notion of community solutions for community problems.
Peer support in community settings has the capacity to address social isolation, build skills and self-esteem and give individuals a better quality of life – it can also add value to whole communities and reframe the way entire groups are considered within them. It has the ability to be both more accessible and less stigmatising and thus reach more people. This also offers community based peer support as a contributor to preventing the deterioration of mental health and potentially reducing the impact of mental ill-health.
The author needs to think more in terms of whole community and get better at improving how the author measures and articulates this community benefit. This will allow us to make better decisions about how best to apply resources for long term whole community gain. Peer support and peer leadership needs to be at the heart of this process.
This paper places a familiar approach in a different setting placing peer support firmly outside services and within comunities.
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