What Is Peer Support?

What Is Peer Support?

With so many outlets to express ourselves, but so few to do it meaningfully, people are finding themselves looking for new and real support systems. While peer support groups have been with us for a pretty long time, it’s this pressing need for real connection that’s brought peer support into the mainstream. At ShareWell, we want to make peer support easy to access, to promote overall wellness and mental health when we clearly need it more than ever. But wait. What is peer support? How is peer support different from group therapy? Or talking with friends and family? Will peer support work for you?

What Is Peer Support?

Peer support is when people use their own experiences to help each other. Peer support is the answer to feeling isolated. It’s for anyone seeking validation and understanding (and also those who aren’t). Participating in peer support provides connection and support to help anyone on their journey of emotional healing and growth.

Though emotional growth isn’t where the benefits of peer support end. Studies have shown that being part of a peer support group can help people with depression find “significant improvement” in their resilience and overall mental health — an idea which has been around for decades.

What we consider peer support is primarily based on the concept of “peers” as people who share similar experiences, anxieties, or even something as simple stories. According to the American Psychological Association, “Peers can offer their experience living with mental health challenges along with offering emotional support, share knowledge, teach skills, provide practical assistance and connect people with resources, opportunity, communities of support, and people.”

The first step in group sessions is really straightforward: participants share and listen in a system of giving and receiving. What comes after that initial jump is really special, because peer support is about realizing you’re not alone, and learning from a community. Your peers offer up their own experiences and a variety of perspectives, and you share your own, building trust, confidence, and your own well-being.

And there are lots of different types of peer support groups. Some are online forums, some are one-on-one mentorship sessions, but most take the form of support groups or self-help groups focusing on education and sharing.

With our platform, we try to make it easy to become part of a consistent, reliable community where you can form the kind of deep connections that feel meaningful and lead to positive change.

When talking about what peer support is, it’s important to consider what it isn’t. Peer support is not the same as group therapy, which is usually led and facilitated by a licensed mental healthcare provider who may or may not have personal lived experience of the topic. Peer support is also not:

 - Counseling
 - Psychoanalysis
 - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

There are a lot of great resources for those specific clinical approaches, but peer support is its own unique practice.

Who Is Peer Support For?

Peer support is for everyone. No, really, we mean it.

We know that mental health is deeply personal, and different people benefit from different types of support. From crisis hotlines to telehealth services, there are lots of options for people seeking support with their mental health. Often, it can be hard to know where to look or to understand what is right for you. Peer support is for anyone looking for a connection, no matter who they are or what stage of life they find themselves.

If you’re feeling a little detached or isolated in life, peer support empowers its users to build support systems and to become part of a community. As a mutual assistance platform, users are pulled out of their bubbles and into welcoming sessions which value them, where they can help others and be helped in the process.

Peer support groups are most effective when you feel empowered to be vulnerable. We ensure this by providing sessions filled exclusively with people who have similar experiences. Here everyone in a session gathers around to talk, share, and listen without hierarchy or judgement, from your peers to your facilitator.

Is Peer Support Right For Me?

Peer support is right for anyone who is open to talking and listening about some of life’s harder moments. Peer support programs commonly address challenges like addiction, anxiety, depression, bereavement, trauma, divorce, relationship problems, and other mental health conditions.

Whether you’re struggling with these or other, more specific challenges, we have a group for you. Even as a newcomer, ShareWell sessions are welcoming. Having a group of friendly confidants who you can trust and learn from is just a few clicks away.

It comes down to this: if you’re the kind of person who feels like nobody understands you in your day-to-day life, whether it’s because of the passions you have or the pain you may feel, peer support is right for you.

Ready to try peer support? Find a community that’s right for you!

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