Peer Support: People supporting people
Find out how connecting with others who "get it" can help you better manage your health.
Finding out that you or a loved one has a chronic or long-term illness can sometimes feel overwhelming. But you don’t have to feel alone! Connecting with others who "get it" can help you better manage your health.
What is peer support?
Peer support is people with the same or similar health condition supporting each other to manage their health and wellbeing. Peers share stories and experiences about coping with a health condition. They also offer friendship, emotional support and practical help when you need it.
What does peer support look like?
Peer support comes in all shapes and sizes. It includes:
- Face-to-face groups which offer emotional support, sharing of experiences, healthy lifestyle activities and education
- One-to-one support offered face-to-face, via email or by telephone
- Online forums like Facebook and blogs
Does peer support really work?
People involved in peer support report they feel more knowledgeable and confident about taking care of their health. Research suggests that peer support has been found to:
- Improve people’s mental wellbeing (e.g. lower rates of depression and anxiety)
- Increase a person’s ability and confidence to self-manage their health
- Improve a person’s ability to talk with their health professional
- Improve the experience and support for carers and people from certain age and ethnic groups
It is important to know that peer support is not only for people with a health condition. It is as valuable and beneficial for carers, family and friends.
Listen to our full podcast interview with Dr Jessica Browne on SoundCloud.
Where can I find peer support?
Peer support is available through different condition-specific organisations. You can contact one that is relevant to you or the person you are caring for. These organisations provide peer support, but they also offer education and healthy lifestyle initiatives that you might find useful.
Your local health and community service may also offer peer support, so give them a call and ask them what’s available.
Here are some examples of health organisations who offer peer support:
- MOVE muscle, bone & joint health (previously Arthritis & Osteoporosis Victoria)
- Cancer Council Victoria
- Carers Victoria
- Diabetes Victoria
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Australia
- National Stroke Foundation
- Parkinson's Victoria
- Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia
Download this list of organisations that offer peer support.
Empowering Particiaption Project
Empowering peer support groups and health organisations to improve services for people with chronic conditionsRead Case Study
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