Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind held three events to showcase major new findings about the difference community peer support can make for people with mental health problems.

Peer support can include one-to-one mentoring, online communities, social groups or self-help groups. 

More than 50 people turned up to the events in Middlesbrough, Saltburn and Stockton and learnt how peer support can increase people’s sense of choice and hope, and can be offered to make sure people stay well in their communities.

National mental health charity Mind, working alongside St George’s University of London, The McPin Foundation, and London School of Economics, carried out the research into peer support in community settings. More than 750 people, from nine areas, including Middlesbrough, shared their experiences and showed how access to peer support improves people’s wellbeing and helps them manage their mental health.

Men Tell Health runs a series of men-only peer support groups in Middlesbrough, Redcar and Stockton-On-Tees. Offering men the chance to come together and talk in a safe, supportive and confidential environment.

Gary Pollard, Men Tell Health Chief Executive, said: “Being part of the peer support project has been an incredible experience. Having the opportunity to connect with other groups and organisations has made such a difference to the work we do.

“We are looking forward to expanding and taking it forward for many years to come”.

Paul Christon, Service Manager at Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind, said: “With one in four people experiencing a mental health problem every year, and three quarters of those people not accessing services, this new research is vital.

“Sharing your experiences with someone who has been through the same thing can help lighten the load. This is particularly true when you experience a mental health problem.

“We believe that community-based peer support services should be offered alongside mental health services across England and Wales.”

Mind has also launched an online resource called ‘Making sense of peer support’ which includes advice on where to find local peer support groups. In addition the charity has an online support community, Elefriends, which offers a platform where people can share and talk about feelings.