Peer support can be a vital component of effective mental health treatment. Even if you’ve never participated in a mental health treatment program, you probably have a general idea of what to expect. For example, you may know that care is usually provided by a team of professionals. You may also understand that patients and clients often take part in several types of therapy and related activities.
But the benefits of mental health care aren’t limited to the professionals a person works with and the services they provide. Peer support from other patients or clients can have an important impact on a person’s treatment and recovery.
What is Peer Support?
The word “peers” refers to people who are at the same level that you are. When you were in school, your peers included the students who were in the same grade that you were in, or who took the same classes. At work, your peer group may include colleagues whose training and responsibilities are close to yours.
In the context of a mental health treatment program, peer support refers to healthy and productive interactions among people who are receiving care. One of the many benefits of receiving treatment at a mental health center such as the Neuroscience Institute is that you will have the opportunity to share support with others who are working to overcome similar challenges and achieve similar goals.
Who Should Use Peer Support Groups?
Peer support groups can be valuable to people who are receiving treatment for a variety of mental and behavioral health concerns. Peer support groups can help people who have been struggling with anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental illnesses. They can also be extremely helpful for people who are working toward recovery from an addiction to alcohol or other drugs.
Participating in a peer support group can also be a beneficial experience for friends, family members, and other loved ones. When a person develops a mental illness, their struggles can also impact the people who are closest to them. Family-oriented peer support groups can provide loved ones with essential information about treatment and recovery. They can also be safe spaces where friends and family members can talk openly about their hopes, fears, and concerns.
The Benefits of Peer Support in Mental Health Treatment
The following are just a few of the many potential benefits of peer support in mental health treatment:
- Overcoming isolation: When you’re living with an untreated mental health disorder, you may believe that no one could possibly understand what you’re going through. When you participate in a peer support group, you will discover that you are not alone. Connecting with other people who truly understand what it’s like to live with a mental illness can be a life-changing experience.
- Education: Peer support groups are excellent learning opportunities. Participants can discuss which strategies have helped them in their journey toward improved health, and which techniques have not been as effective. They can also share suggestions for dealing with certain challenges or obstacles.
- Compassion & respect: Mental health stigma is sadly persistent. Public awareness and understanding have improved considerably over the years, but many people still cling to outdated beliefs about mental illness. When you participate in a peer support group, you are in a safe space where you won’t be defined by the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. Other participants won’t judge or criticize you because of how you’ve been affected by mental illness.
- Helping others: Peer support groups aren’t just places to receive help. They are also ideal opportunities to use your experiences and insights to help others. This can take many forms. You may have information that can be valuable to another participant. You may be able to help them solve a particularly difficult problem. Or you may simply be a source of encouragement at a time when they’re struggling.
Another important benefit of peer support groups is that you can continue to participate long after you’ve completed treatment. Recovering from a substance use disorder or a mental health concern can require lifelong effort. Continuing to actively participate in one or more community-based peer support groups can help you make sustained progress. Your peer support group can also help you overcome temporary setbacks before they become long-term problems.
How to Find a Peer Support Group Near You
There are many ways to find appropriate peer support groups near you. If you are currently receiving treatment, talk to a member of your treatment team. They can help you identify the group or groups that may be best for you.
If you have already completed treatment, contact the program’s alumni director. They or another representative of the treatment center should be able to connect you with the support services that align most closely with your needs and goals. If you haven’t yet entered treatment, contact a local or national mental health advocacy organization.
Get Mental Health Treatment in South Florida
Untreated mental illness can be devastating. But when you get quality care from a reputable provider, your life can get much better. Neuroscience Institute is a respected source of personalized mental health services in South Florida. Our team can put you on the path toward a healthier and more hopeful future. When you’re ready to get started, we are here for you. Visit our admissions page today to learn how we can help.