Mental health charity Mind has found that huge numbers of people in the North East are struggling to get the emotional support they need in day to day life. Mind has launched a new online resource called ‘Making sense of peer support’ as part of its Side by Side peer support project, regional data¹ found the following:
- The North East is the most emotionally guarded part of England, with over half of people (54%) saying they feel uncomfortable opening up about emotions to people close to them
- One in ten people (9%) in the North East say they have no one currently in their life they could rely on when they needed emotional support.
- A third of people in the North East say they regularly feel alone (31%). The only places in England that were lonelier were London and the South East
- A side from those they live with, people in the North East were an average of 45 minutes away from the person they most relied on for emotional support.
- Two in five people in the North East (39%) feel worse when they don’t have anyone around them they can rely on.
- Over two in five people (44%) in the North East say they struggle without the support of people around them.
Feeling like you don’t have people you can depend on and who understand you when you need emotional support can be particularly difficult if you have a mental health problem. In response to this, Mind has teamed up with Bipolar UK and Depression Alliance to run a two-year nationwide pilot scheme called Side by Side.
Funded by Big Lottery, the programme is exploring the benefits of peer support, which is support given and received on an equal basis by people who share something in common, for people with mental health problems. Mind have also launched a new online guide called ‘Making sense of peer support’ www.mind.org.uk/peersupportinfo which includes information on peer support and advice on where to find local peer support groups.
One such example of a local independent peer support group in action is the MAP project in Stockton. The group is peer led and meets weekly to explore Mindfulness Art and Poetry through the use of different media. Members benefit from the chance to connect with others who have similar experiences and understanding of mental health difficulties, whilst engaging in creative mindful activities. People who attend the group feel listened to and supported to move forward, realise their own strengths and recognise that change is possible.
Naomi Roopchand, Side by Side Hub Coordinator from Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind said:
“Life can be tough when it feels like you’ve got no one there for you who understands. This is particularly true when you have a mental health problem. Sharing your experiences with people who have been there too can be really helpful, which is why the Side by Side network of local independent peer support groups is bringing together people with experience of mental health problems to support each other on their own terms.”
For further information about Side by Side or local peer support groups please contact Naomi Roopchand at Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind on 01642 796630
¹ Polling was conducted by Populus who interviewed a nationally representative sample of 2,052 UK adults online between 29 and 31 January 2016. 93 interviews were conducted in the North East.