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Research has shown that peer-run self-help groups yield improvement in psychiatric symptoms resulting in decreased hospitalisation, larger social support networks and enhanced self-esteem and social functioning.

The benefits of Peer Support are wide ranging for those receiving the support, peer-support workers themselves, and for the mental health system as a whole.

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Peer-support programmes have been developed to such an extent that peer supporters, with adequate training, can help their peers with the following issues: A peer supporter who offers a listening service is a person who has been trained in counselling skills that include active listening, verbal and non-verbal communication, confidentiality and problem solving.

Peer supporters who have completed certain training may then go on to offer support to their peers on a formal basis.

We continue to be involved in a number of projects providing, promoting and evaluating Peer Support related to mental health.

The Right Here programme is a five-year collaboration between us and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

In collaboration with Housing 21, a social housing provider, we are to run and evaluate facilitated self-help, peer-support groups for people in early stages of dementia and their partners living in extra care and sheltered housing schemes in London.

The aim of the project is to find out if these groups enable people to live independently for longer, improve their quality of life and reduce social isolation.

One of the key benefits of Peer Support is the greater perceived empathy and respect that peer supporters are seen to have for the individuals they support.

Peer Support also has benefits for peer support workers themselves, increasing levels of self-esteem, confidence and positive feelings that they are doing good.

Peer-support workers often experience an increase in their own ability to cope mental health problems.

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