PEER SUPPORT SERVICES 

What is Peer Support?

 

Peer Support may be defined as the help and support that people with lived experience of mental distress are able to give to one another. It may be social, emotional or practical support but importantly this support is mutually offered and reciprocal, allowing peers to benefit from the support whether they are giving or receiving it. Non-judgemental and personal. Key elements of Peer Support in mental health include that it is built on shared personal experience and empathy, it focuses on an individual’s strengths not weaknesses, and works towards the individual’s wellbeing and recovery.

 

What is a Peer Support Group?

 

It is a non-clinical intervention for people experiencing mental distress (or other condition or issue) and based on a formal therapeutic relationship between peers (people who have experienced similar adversity). Our peer support group are regular gatherings of people with lived experience of anxiety.

 

One or two trained peer support specialists, who may be psychologists, help to facilitate and all groups are generally held every two weeks. Group members share with one another about their experiences, struggles and challenges. The support group may act as an anchor as people focus developing skills to live well. A peer support group can help to free people from self-stigma and normalise the range of feelings and challenges that people experience, in a safe, supported and hope-focused environment.

 

What happens in Peer Support?

 

Grounded in the belief that people are their own greatest resource and that adverse life experiences can be sources of resilience and knowledge. • Draws on a shared understanding of recovery. • Focuses on what will sustain recovery – employment, reconnection with family/whānau, achievement and purposeful activities, as well as being included in communities. • Instils hope by being with someone who has been there and ‘through it’. • Not about ‘fixing things’ but building on strengths.

 

What are the benefits of Peer Support?

 

• A sense of connection and participation • Increased self-esteem and self-confidence • A sense of purpose • A greater sense of wellbeing, including less symptom distress • Increases in the quality and number of relationships – greater social support network • Longer periods of wellbeing •  Increased involvement in meaningful activities • Increased resilience and quality of life • Increased motivation to implement life changes.

 

What Peer Groups do you offer?

There are currently four Peer Support Groups on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays for people aged 18 years +. Groups may be held online in Alert Level 4, 3 and 2. You can read more about each group below.

 

What does it cost?

The Peer Support Groups are provided for free. They are a DHB funded service provided by Anxiety NZ Trust.

 

How do I join:

 

The group is open to people who are eligible to access healthcare services in NZ (a NZ resident, citizen etc.) and have a primary diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. You can ask your GP or other health professional for a referral to the Peer Support Group.  They can refer on our website, by email, fax or through Medtech or Healthlink.

 

If this isn’t possible you can fill out a self-referral on our website and we will be in touch.

 

Before joining the group a psychologist or peer group facilitator will arrange a time by phone or ZOOM to talk with you, to answer questions about the group, check-in with how you are feeling, and help to identify if a peer group environment would be appropriate and a helpful next step for you. If the group of choice is full we may offer for you to go on a waiting list until a space becomes available.

 

If you join the group, there will be a consent form to read and agree to and sign and there are some group conduct guidelines to help keep it a safe, confidential and helpful space for all members.

 

Anxiety NZ also submits coded, confidential demographic data to the Ministry of Health which you can read more about here: More information about ‘What happens to your mental health and addiction information?’ This includes smoking/vaping, housing, education, caregiver and support status, and if a wellbeing plan in place. If you don’t have a wellbeing plan we can help you with one. Every 6 months we will ask about changes in these areas.

 

Leaving the group:

 

If you would like to finish your Peer Group experience or can no longer come to the group regularly please let us know. We may be able to assist with a referral to other services or connecting you with resources to help maintain your health and wellbeing. If someone is unable to come for three groups in a row (unless otherwise arranged) we will make that space available for another person to join in their place. There is no limitation on how long a person can be in the group for and previous group members are welcome to get in touch about re-joining in the future.

 

What Group Members are saying:

 

“Anxiety NZ’s Peer Support Group helps to keep me connected with the things I value. One of the best things is truly knowing I’m never alone in how I feel. Making time for activities that have a positive impact on my health and wellbeing has made a huge difference to how I feel”.

 

“I was pretty nervous and it was a big effort to get myself to the first group. For ages I felt a huge amount of anxiety around other people and mostly just avoided social stuff where I could. This made Uni, work, and making friends that weren’t online, really tough. In the group I learnt so much about getting my mental wellbeing in shape and why my social anxiety was trying to help me out – but doing it in an unhelpful way!  

 

"I did work hard to actually practice the skills my peers recommended and they do work! Now I work with my anxiety, and make it work for me, so I’m doing the things I actually want to do, and avoiding much less stuff. I highly recommend being brave and getting support.”

 

More information

 

Read more about the Power of Peer Support here >

Power of Peer Support Services (mentalhealth.org.nz)

Peer Support Group

Group Guidelines and Goals PDF >

What happens to your information guide ≥

SERVICE USER AND FAMILY/WHĀNAU PARTICIPATION

Downloads:

Family Whānau Participation in Service Planning Implementation and Delivery Policy >

Service User Participation in Service Planning Implementation & Delivery Policy >

PEER SUPPORT GROUPS FOR ADULTS - FOUR FREE OPTIONS

SOCIAL ANXIETY PEER SUPPORT GROUP - SATURDAYS

A small and safe group supporting those who experience social anxiety or social phobia.. Facilitated by a registered psychologist and intern psychologist. An excellent opportunity to learn and practice new skills in a supported space.

 

Every second Saturday 3.30pm - 5.00pm, ongoing. 

Self referral or health professional referral required

Location: Anxiety NZ Trust, 77 Morningside Drive, St Lukes.

GENERAL PEER SUPPORT GROUP -THURSDAYS

Fun, friendship, sharing and understanding in a safe and supportive environment. Facilitated by a registered psychologist and Support Worker.

Fortnightly Thursdays 6.00pm - 8.00 pm.

Self referral or health professional referral required

Location: Anxiety NZ Trust, 77 Morningside Drive, St Lukes.

BALANCE PEER SUPPORT GROUP - THURSDAYS

A safe space for women with anxiety to meet and have meaningful conversations in a confidential and supportive environment. Components of the meetings include psychoeducation, sharing experiences, practical strategies and resources.

Facilitated by a Registered Psychologist and Support Worker.

Fortnightly Thursday 6.00pm - 8.00 pm.

Self referral or health professional referral required

Location: Anxiety NZ Trust, 77 Morningside Drive, St Lukes.

WELLBEING PEER SUPPORT GROUP - MONDAY

During the Covid-19's social restrictions our regular support group was transferred to a virtual platform (Zoom). 

Location: Online (using ZOOM and closed Facebook group option)