MENTAL HEALTH PEER SUPPORT GROUPS
By Jolene Cliffe
DAC NW in Lewiston has started a peer support group, available in person and on zoom which is held every Monday, from 5:30pm – 6:30pm. Our start date was August 15th, and is off to a great start. Our 1st meeting hosted 9 participants and it was a very positive experience, lots of laughing. It is proven that peer counseling and mental health groups have a positive impact on hope, empowerment, and quality of life. Peer support can also result in higher levels of engagement with self-care, confidence needed to self-advocate in their care, increased self-esteem, which facilitates actively engaging in social situations, and decreases anxiety, depression and the tendency to isolate. In addition, peer support groups also empower people to work toward solving life challenges as they come.
Local mental health care providers and treatment centers in the LC Valley have been very supportive in helping to get the word out about our Mental Health Monday group, so that we keep the groups attendance consistent, but also in hopes of better targeting the specific needs we as a community lack.
It is common knowledge that people with mental illness benefit from the support of friends and family. Unfortunately, there are many people living with some form of mental illness who have very little family or friends to turn to – often times, due to lack of understanding, and stigma. In starting this peer group, my hope is to help facilitate those in attendance to start and grow new friendships amongst themselves, and eventually become self-sustaining. I believe that to be a real possibility. I look forward to sharing our progress once we have more group meetings under our belt.