In its simplest form, peer support occurs when people with lived experiences share these experiences to help each other. 

Although family, friends and colleagues often provide great support, we can find some subjects challenging to discuss with those close to us. Sometimes we may not want to concern those close to us; we may think they will not understand or fear prejudice and stigma from colleagues.

Peer Support is a process of giving and receiving support when recovering from or living with challenges associated with mental health. Support is provided by others with ‘lived experience’ often trained to assist others with their recovery journey.

Peer Support - what it is

We encourage anyone with concerns about their mental health to initially speak to their GP. 

In-community peer support is not an alternative to clinical support or treatment.

Research has shown that peer support can improve wellbeing, increase motivation to treat

and as a result, aid recovery.

There are different types of peer support, but they all share the principle that Recovery and Healing are informed through a collaborative or co-learning process. Co-learning also recognises the power of accountability to others which can be generated within a group learning environment.

Lunch with Friends


Many of us would have experienced this form of support; this is the chat you have with your close friends, family or work colleagues. These are your girlfriends or mates at the football club, the friends you can rely on when you need a shoulder to cry on or advice about moving job. In general, these are social based groups. However great these relationships are, there are some issues you may feel you can not discuss with them.


Peer Support Groups

These are organised groups facilitated by trained peers. These groups are semi-structured and focus on emotional support,

sharing experiences, education and practical activities. These

groups can be broad or related to specific conditions.

These groups complement clinical treatment by promoting supporting mechanisms such as 

  • social connectedness

  • hope and optimism

  • identity and confidence

  • meaning and purpose

  • empowerment and agency

Doctor Office

Treatment specific Peer Support

Peer Support is increasingly offered alongside clinical treatment, including public health services such as the NHS. Usually provided by employed Peer Support Workers with lived experience, these services provide 1:1 and group peer support often aligned to specific treatment programmes and under the direction of clinical practitioners.


All Space to Talk peer support groups are facilitated by at least one experienced Peer Support Facilitator. All our Facilitators have lived experience and:

  • are recovered to a level that ensures safeguarding of participants and themselves

  • are fully trained in the principles of peer support

  • are aware of when to sign post individuals to professional / clinical support.

  • uphold our Peer Support values 

Peer Support - what it is not!

Peer Support, even when delivered as part of clinical treatment, is not therapy. Peer Support complements treatment or clinical intervention but should never offer or claim to offer therapy.

Peer support groups are not social groups. Peer support groups should not be seen as a solution to finding or building a friendship group but more a step towards building the confidence to socialise more and participate in other social activities, sports or hobbies.


That guy online or down the pub may sound convincing but, you should always check the qualifications of anyone who works with you or your family. Within the UK, anyone can call themselves a Psychologist, Counsellor or Therapist; these are not protected titles.

Clinical Psychologists and specifically those registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) are the only people with the legally protected title 'Clinical Psychologist'

Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors who have specialised in mental health. They can prescribe medication as well as recommend other forms of treatment. Psychiatrists often work alongside other mental health practitioners such as psychologists and mental health nurses in the NHS.

Therapists and Counsellors often train in providing particular types of therapy/intervention such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, or counselling.

British Psychological Society (BPS) - are the professional body responsible for the register of Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists.

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) - Therapists and counsellors are not legally regulated professions. Still, these professional bodies exist to uphold standards and require minimum qualifications and training for their registered members.