Talking about your feelings of depression, stress and anxiety can often help to alleviate some of the strain.
But not everyone is comfortable with telling people they know.
Knowing how vital it is to get people talking, a new PeerTalk group has been launched in Preston.
The support group meets at Intact, Whitby Avenue, Preston, on Thursdays from 10.45am until 12.15pm – with the first session taking place this Thursday.
The charity PeerTalk, in partnership with Intact, is behind the initiative and aims to set up a national network of peer support groups to offer support to those living with depression.
The groups are led by fully trained volunteers and offer a safe place for people to share as much or as little as they wish.
It is the second group to be launched in Preston, with one already successfully running at Central Methodist Church in Preston on Thursday evenings, from 7.30pm until 9pm.
Rosa Trelfa, PeerTalk project director, says: “Research tells us that one in four people experience mental health difficulties in their lives.
“Depression is a very common condition. Any of us, irrespective of age, gender or background, can be affected at some point and the isolation and suffering that comes with depression can be hard to bear as the stigma around it prevent people from seeking support.
“The strength of these peer support groups lies in the fact that the support offered comes from others who have a lived experience of depression, who understand, who will not judge, and who can offer help from their own experience.
“We are pleased to working alongside the Intact Centre, which is known in the area to reach out offering a range of constructive support to people. We hope that this support group will enable people to look after their wellbeing in a positive way.
“There is a growing body of research looking into the effect of peer support in the field of mental health. Peer support groups can lead to an improvement in psychiatric symptoms, enhanced self-esteem and better social functioning. The research is ongoing but the signs are good. As a society it seems that we’re not sure how to respond to mental health. Attitudes are slowly changing but there’s still much work to do.
“At PeerTalk we recognise the need to share, to create the space where people will be heard and accepted and know that it’s okay not to be okay. In this way, people who live with depression can find a way through it, with support, and manage their mental health positively.”
Helen Dixon, volunteer and skills development manager at the Intact Centre, adds: “The wellbeing of those whom we serve is important to us, and that includes peoples’ mental and emotional wellbeing. This new peer support group will offer people a safe space to share their concerns, to be supported and become more resilient in terms of their mental health – which in turn will impact on other parts of their lives.
“We’re pleased to be working in partnership with PeerTalk who bring their expertise to us and share many of our core values. It’s a partnership we look forward to strengthening. I’m convinced that this kind of peer support, with a focus on mental health, can only benefit the local community and it has our full encouragement and support.”
A service user from the Intact Centre says: “Since my circumstances have changed recently, I have been very low, and have had services taken away from me. It is amazing that groups like this exist. It is really hard to admit that you are not coping, but having a peer support group in the community where I live will be really helpful.”