It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, so we thought we would take the opportunity to talk about peer support and how it can make a big difference to young people’s mental health and wellbeing. One of the messages we receive on a regular basis is that there is not enough support available. Mental health services are overstretched and underfunded, so non-profit organisations are being relied upon to provide much-needed support.
Our peer support groups give valuable support to young people who have mental health issues. The feedback we get highlights how attending helps young people feel more valued, less isolated and more able to cope. The comments we receive often mention the importance of feeling accepted and spending time in a safe, non-judgemental environment.
Raising awareness of mental health is vital, but so is providing more support.
Early intervention services like our groups can prevent mental health problems getting worse, potentially saving the NHS and other government services a lot of money. The problem is, there are simply not enough support services. We have been contacted by people who live miles away from East Devon, who are desperate for similar peer support groups in their area, because young people are being failed by mainstream mental health services.
When people lack adequate support, their mental health problems can escalate. They may feel like they have nobody to talk to, or that their needs are not important. When we let down young people in this way, we are sending the wrong message. Our society needs more support services so that we can send people a different message: that they matter and deserve help.
Helping to spread a more positive message.
We are about to open a new peer support group in Ottery St Mary this summer, in addition to our Axminster and Chard sessions, which will enable us to help more young people and demonstrate that they are valued. If you are interested in volunteering, would like to refer a young person to the service or would like more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We help young people aged 13-24 with mental health issues and you don’t need to have been diagnosed with a mental illness to attend the groups. We have helped young people with anxiety, bereavement, bullying, depression, eating disorders, exam stress and many other issues. Our groups are activity based, helping young people learn life skills and coping strategies. We would never pressure anyone to participate in an activity or talk about their problems if they don’t wish to do so.
Young people can be referred to us by a parent or carer, their GP, a teacher, a mental health worker, a youth worker or themselves. Our mental health support worker will meet with you to discuss your needs and whether attending the group is appropriate for you. You can change your mind at any point in the process and are under no pressure to attend sessions. Our groups are accessible, inclusive and free to attend.
If you would like to volunteer, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will send you an application. Our volunteers do an amazing job and we could not run our support groups without them. Volunteering can also be beneficial for you, as making a positive contribution to your community can improve your confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing.
This Mental Health Awareness Week, help us support more young people and raise awareness of the need for more early intervention and support services across the UK.