The Service Users and Supporters Council (SUAS) of St Patrick's Mental Health Services (SPMHS) has developed a free online peer-to-peer support service, Here 4 U, for people to use their own experiences of mental health difficulties to help others.
Safe and welcoming place
Safe and welcoming place
SUAS, with the support of SPMHS, today is launching a free online peer-to-peer support service, Here 4 U, for people to use their own experiences of mental health difficulties to help others.
In these challenging times, and as we continue to adapt to the changing restrictions of COVID-19, Here 4 U will offer an online space where people who have shared experiences of mental health difficulties can support one another.
This marks the commencement of the pilot phase of the service. Here 4 U will first be run both by and for our former service users, with the aim of eventually extending the service to make it nationally accessible to anyone who feels they could benefit from this type of peer-to-peer mental health support.
The support group will be a safe and welcoming place for people to come together and discuss how they are managing during the uncertainty of these times. It aims to create the online equivalent of meeting some friends for a chat, and it is hoped that establishing this type of support will help to ease the sense of isolation many people are feeling in the current public health restrictions.
Here 4 U was chosen as the peer-to-peer support service name following a competition which ran in November 2020, and had nearly 60 entries.
Sense of community
Sense of community
SUAS is a voluntary committee made up of former service users, and its purpose is to enhance the experience for current service users receiving treatment for mental health difficulties and their families.
Chair of SUAS, Marian Slevin, said SUAS is "delighted to announce the development of this new peer support service, which was devised during the first lockdown in March 2020."
"Here4U creates a space for people to support one another at a time of great uncertainty, and is also an opportunity to improve the mental health of participants by providing much-needed connections while we continue to remain apart physically. It is our hope that, following a successful pilot programme, we can expand the service nationwide to make it inclusive for anyone who feels they would benefit from the sense of community that the support service will foster."
Our Service User Engagement Coordinator, Siobhan Fitzharris, said: “SPMHS is proud to support the members of the SUAS in this project, which is very close to their hearts. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that we have all had to adapt to the way we interact with people, with many feeling the effects of isolation and loneliness from the continued public health restrictions. The purpose of this new support group is to help mitigate some of these effects by providing supportive connections with people who have similar experiences."
"This support group is the first of its kind for SPMHS, and marks an important development for service user empowerment, which is a key strategic goal of the organisation. We look forward to its roll-out and hope that it will eventually become nationally accessible for anyone who needs it.”
The concept of support groups to help mental health recovery is recognised. In 2019, research commissioned by the Health Service Executive into the impact of peer support working in Ireland found that service users viewed peer support workers as a recovery resource that normalised mental health difficulties to them and provided them insight and understanding into the lived experience of mental health difficulties. The research also highlighted that peer support workers embodied the principles of recovery outlined in the National Framework for Recovery in Mental Health (2017).
Initially, Here 4 U will meet twice weekly, with the first session taking place on Monday, 25 January. Pre-booking a place is essential and bookings can be made here.
We also operate a confidential Support and Information Service, staffed by experienced mental health nurses from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with an answering and call-back facility outside hours. You can get in touch with the service by calling 01 249 3333 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.