Peer Support

Our Service User and Supporters Council (SUAS) is launching a new online peer-to-peer support service in January 2021.

Peer or peer-to-peer support is when people use their own experiences to help each other.

SUAS recognises that, in these challenging times, there is a need for an online space where people who have a shared experience of mental ill-health can support one another.

Peer or peer-to-peer support is when people use their own experiences to help each other.

With its pilot phase beginning in January for people who have previously attended St Patrick's Mental Health Services (SPMHS). this online peer support service will be run both by and for former service users of SPMHS as a safe, welcoming place to come together and discuss how they are managing during these uncertain times. SUAS describes it as the virtual equivalent of meeting some friends at a coffee shop for a chat.

If the pilot phase goes well, SUAS aims to extend the service, making it accessible nationally for anyone who feels that they could benefit from this type of peer support.

SUAS hopes that establishing this type of support will help to reduce the sense of isolation many people are experiencing as a result of the current public health situation, as some supports to help people going through mental health difficulties are not currently available or are curtailed in line with ongoing restrictions.

You can find out more about the service below.

If you have any queries, please email Siobhan Fitzharris, our Service User Engagement Coordinator, at sfitzharris@stpatsmail.com.

  • What is the purpose of peer support?

    While there are different types of peer support, they all aim to:

    • bring together people with shared experiences to support each other
    • provide a space where everyone feels accepted and understood
    • treat everyone's experiences as being equally important
    • involve both giving and receiving support.
  • How will this service work?

    This service will operate online, and will offer non-clinical peer support.

    Each session will be hosted by volunteer peer facilitators working in pairs. The volunteer facilitators will receive training before the service begins.

    Those who would like to attend an online session will be able to book their place online, with a link to access the session being sent to them in advance.  

    The times for each session will be shared through the booking system, with each session lasting for approximately one hour.

  • Who can take part in the service?

    When the online peer support service launches in January 2021, it will be available for all former service users of SPMHS.

    As the service develops and interest increases, it may be possible to extend the service nationally. This will depend on the number of trained volunteer facilitators in place and demand from the number of people who may not have attended SPMHS but would like to avail of this type of support.

  • Why is this service being set up?

    The sudden onset of COVID-19 has meant that we have all had to change the way we interact with people. This is necessary to keep each other safe.

    However, one significant effect of this change for people receiving care and treatment for mental health is that the opportunity for social interaction with others going through similar experiences has been greatly reduced.

    Members of SUAS, who are all former SPMHS service users, have experienced first-hand the impact of the COVID-19 public health situation on themselves and their recovery. They believe that, if their own group is so widely affected by the restrictions in place, then it is likely that many others are also feeling these effects. SUAS proposed and developed the new online peer support service as a way to enable people in a similar position to gather safely and support each other.  

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Find out more about SUAS

Find out more about SUAS