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10 Benefits of Peer Support

10 Benefits of Peer Support

Two friends hugging after having a conversation to support each other's mental health.

Finding a sense of connection and comfort during tough times can be difficult, especially when dealing with difficult emotions or life circumstances. That’s why it can be beneficial to join a peer support group—a safe space where you can explore your thoughts and feelings in an open, honest, non-judgemental environment. 

From improving coping skills to increasing self-confidence and resilience, taking part in peer support provides many different benefits that can help you on your mental health journey.

Peer support is just one element of a mental health support system. In times of crisis, know you can access 24-hour support. Distress Centre can also help you connect with counselling services and other resources in times of need.

What Is Peer Support?

Peer support refers to a type of support that comes from individuals who have shared similar life experiences or challenges. It’s a form of mental health support that is non-professional but grounded in empathy, understanding, and compassion. 

Unlike traditional professional support, peer support does not involve a professional mental healthcare provider, such as a therapist or psychologist. Instead, peer support is driven by a shared sense of community, lived experience, and hope. Peer support is not a replacement for professional mental health care, but it can be a beneficial addition on the path to recovery.

1: Build Empathy & Understanding

One of the key benefits of peer support is that it can provide a compassionate network of people who can empathize with your experiences because they understand the rollercoaster of emotions that can come with life’s ups and downs. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or just need someone to talk to, your peers are there to listen without judgment and offer much-needed empathy. 

2: Experience a Non-Judgmental Environment

The fear of judgment is one of the barriers to seeking support. Peer support provides a safe, non-judgmental space for individuals to share their experiences and seek guidance without fear of stigma or shame. Since you’re interacting with others who understand and can relate to your experiences, you don’t have to fear being judged about your thoughts, feelings, or experiences.

3: Hear Shared Experiences

Peer support groups bring together individuals with similar lived experiences, allowing you to share your challenges, discuss coping strategies, and provide emotional support to one another.

Through shared experiences, you can gain insights and perspectives you may not have considered before. You learn from others’ journeys, their successes, and their setbacks, which can help you navigate your own challenges with newfound strength and resilience.

4: Improve Self-Esteem

When you receive support from others who understand what you’re going through, it can provide a sense of belonging and reassurance that you’re not alone on this journey. This can be beneficial in building self-esteem, personal happiness, and coping skills. Likewise, when you extend your support to others, it not only helps them but also reinforces your own sense of empathy and purpose. 

5: Build a Sense of Community

Peer support groups can offer individuals a sense of community and belonging. It can be beneficial for individuals to connect with others who are on a similar journey. These connections can foster a sense of belonging, knowing that you’re not alone in your experiences. 

A group of people standing in a line with their arms around each other as a form of peer support.

6: Benefit from Confidentiality

Confidentiality is a crucial aspect of peer support groups. Confidentiality ensures that personal information shared within the group remains private and is not shared outside the group. Knowing you’re in a safe space where your personal information is kept private can empower you to open up without fear of judgment or repercussions.

7: Decrease Stigma

For many people, struggling with their mental health can make them feel like there’s something wrong with them. In truth, nearly everyone is affected by mental health challenges at some point. Peer support groups can help reduce the stigma associated with mental health, helping people learn that they are not alone in their journey and that others have had similar experiences.

8: Improve Coping Skills

Research shows that peer support can have a profound impact on coping skills and improvements in mental health. Through the support and guidance of peers, individuals have the opportunity to learn and develop new approaches to navigate the challenges that come with mental health. Engaging in these activities can foster a sense of resilience and equip individuals with valuable tools to better manage their emotions and overall well-being. 

9: Get Recovery Support

By connecting with peers who have experienced similar challenges, individuals can find solace, encouragement, and guidance. The supportive environment of peer groups fosters a sense of belonging and understanding, creating a space where individuals can openly share their experiences and learn from one another. 

With the help of peer support, individuals can embark on a path of healing and growth, empowering themselves to overcome obstacles and embrace a brighter future.

10: Accessible & Cost-Effective

Peer support groups serve as an accessible and cost-effective option. These groups tend to offer a more affordable (or cost-free) alternative compared to traditional mental health services like therapy or counselling. 

For individuals who may be unable to afford professional help, peer support can be a valuable resource. They can provide a gateway to learning about and accessing a variety of mental health resources, like free crisis counselling services, therapy options, and community resources.

Find Support at Distress Centre

Seeking peer support can have numerous benefits for your mental well-being. Connecting with others who have gone through similar experiences provides a sense of validation and understanding that can be difficult to find elsewhere. 

Whether you’re looking to join a peer support group or are seeking help in a crisis situation, resources are available for you. The trained responders at Distress Centre are here for you, ready to lend an empathetic ear and provide comfort during difficult times.You don’t have to face your struggles alone. Take the first step toward improving your mental well-being by reaching out to Distress Centre or other resources in your community.

In the spirit of respect, reciprocity and truth, Distress Centre Calgary would like to honour and acknowledge Moh’kinsstis, and the traditional Treaty 7 territory and oral practices of the Blackfoot confederacy: Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, as well as the Îyâxe Nakoda and Tsuut’ina nations. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3 within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. Finally, we acknowledge all Nations – Indigenous and non – who live, work and play on this land, and who honour and celebrate this territory.