NEWTON Angela, WOMER Jessica, WHATMOUGH Suzy
This evaluation assessed the peer support delivered across three accommodation services in Hampshire to understand the ways in which it impacted people’s lives and what they valued most about it. The services provided support for people experiencing mental distress, many of who had multiple complex needs. A total of 12 volunteers delivered peer support both on-to-one support and group peer support. A total of 22 people completed questionnaires for the evaluation, which included 12 services users (71 per cent of all service users who had used peer support), and 10 Peer Supporters (83 per cent of all Peer Supporters). Costs of providing peer support and the number of hours of direct support provided by peer supporters were also collected. From this, the return on investment in peer support was calculated using a methodology for measuring the equivalent worth of activity in social terms. The results found that the majority of peer supporters and service users who took part in the study had improved levels of confidence, felt more able to manage their mental health; had an improved social life and support network; felt more accepted; and felt more hopeful about the future. It also calculated that every pound spent on peer support provided a social return worth £4.94. The findings demonstrate that peer support is valued by those involved and helps support people to achieve their outcomes and lead more independent and fulfilling lives. The results of the study will also help communicate the value of peer support in financial terms to with commissioners and funders.
SEEBOHM Patience, et al
To explore the contribution of self-help/mutual aid groups to mental well-being this article draws on data from stage one of ESTEEM, a project which runs from 2010 to 2013. Stage one ran from 2010 to 2011 and involved participatory, qualitative research carried out in two UK sites. Twenty-one groups were purposively selected to include a range of focal issues, longevity, structures and ethnic backgrounds. Researchers carried out 21 interviews with group coordinators and twenty group discussions with members to explore the groups' purpose, nature and development. Preliminary analysis of the data suggested that mental well-being was a common theme across the groups. Subsequently the data were re-analysed to explore the groups' contribution to mental well-being using a checklist of protective factors for mental well-being as a coding framework. The findings showed that groups made a strong contribution to members' mental well-being by enhancing a sense of control, increasing resilience and facilitating participation. Group members were uplifted by exchanging emotional and practical support; they gained self-esteem, knowledge and confidence, thereby increasing their control over their situation. For some groups, socio-economic factors limited their scope and threatened their future. The article provides an evidence-base which illustrates how self-help/mutual aid groups can enhance mental well-being. If supported within a strategy for social justice, these groups enable people with varied concerns to develop a tailored response to their specific needs. The authors suggest that policy-makers engage with local people, investing in support proportionate to the needs of different populations, enabling them to develop their own self-help/mutual aid groups to enhance their sense of mental well-being.