Peer Support Improves Mental Health
Peer support programs can be loosely defined as any activity that encourages interactions among individuals who have similar experiences. Peer support examples can be as simple as a peer support group that meets to discuss important recovery topics. Others may be more akin to peer support mentorship programs where peer workers who have entered recovery share their personal experiences, recovery tools, and more.
While relationships with treatment professionals like counselors, therapists, and physicians are important, peer support is a critical component of recovery and mental health treatment.1
Peer support is particularly important for those who have been subject to rounds of addictive pharmaceutical medications from a doctor they once trusted. If someone finds themselves unable to trust the very profession they once relied on to find healing, they may be initially unable to trust those in charge of helping them recover. By contrast, peer support groups can build that sense of trust within a community of others who truly understand their struggles. Peer mentorship and support programs can not only help provide the tools necessary to remain in lasting recovery but provide living proof that recovery is possible.2
The Value of Peer Support During Recovery
A compendium of research demonstrates that without a strong support system, people with a substance use disorder are more likely to relapse. Others who have developed relationships with their peers and developed a peer support network have improved chances of staying in recovery.3 Long-term healing, whether from environmentally-derived neurotoxins, pharmaceutical drugs, or even mental health symptoms, and a return to happiness are only possible if the patient has people they can connect to, grow with, and rely on in times of struggle. Participation in peer support activities is a key indicator of successful recovery, which is why we at Alternative to Meds Center are so proud of our robust peer support system.4
Staying isolated and alone during early recovery means people are more likely to feel isolated and alone with their problems after treatment concludes. However, when multiple persons are facing similar challenges, there is a bonding and an alliance that develops. Instead of feeling as if they are about to traverse the significant hurdles of mental health conditions, medication tapering, and recovery of health alone, they’ll be working with others who understand exactly what they’re going through. As a result, they may be more willing to share experiences, confront past traumas, or even simply listen to understand that they are not the only ones facing challenges.
Inpatient Peer Support Programs: Helping Others Helps Oneself
Whether it takes the form of peer groups or peer mentorship, peer support work isn’t just about being helped but about learning to help others in the same way.In fact, research suggests that peer support is just as helpful to the person providing the support as it is to the person receiving it.
Helping another person provides a feeling of accomplishment and a connection with others that enables both to put therapy strategies to good use and encourages deeper emotional bonds. 5 This is a critical reason peer support programs are so important. Not only do they ensure that each person is given the social network they need to thrive, but it encourages people to help each other as well as the rest of their community. It reinforces the idea of the support network as a reliable, trusted group that can be counted on when necessary. This network is something people seeking treatment often lack.