Report published on critical need for peer support groups in Bucks

Buckinghamshire Mind and Healthwatch Bucks have published a report on the crucial need for mental health peer support groups in Buckinghamshire.

The findings of the report, based on feedback from current Adult Mental Health Service users and NHS providers, identify substantial unmet demand for peer support services in Buckinghamshire.

“Peer support is based on people sharing experiences to help one another and has proved vital to improving emotional health and wellbeing,” explains Emily Teja, Peer Support Project Manager for Buckinghamshire Mind. “For many, the continuous support from those also experiencing mental health problems is a crucial step on the journey of recovery.”

The report details the integral part that peer support services play in promoting hope and belief in the possibility of recovery as well as encouraging the self-management of difficulties. Peer Support groups can offer a vital lifeline back into the community, providing a sense of belonging in the often isolating experience of mental health problems.

“The peer support group has helped immensely to increase my self-confidence in social environments, which in turn helped me in to employment,” says a member of the Mind the Gap peer support group in Chesham, run by Buckinghamshire Mind.

The report further highlights the unmet demand for support services and current fragmentation of peer support in Buckinghamshire. Aylesbury Vale, one of the most populous areas of the county, was an area of particular concern, with currently few peer support groups in place. However, 75% of those questioned, all of whom were experiencing mental health problems, said they would attend a group if there was one available. Provision was also found to be severely lacking in rural bucks.

Importantly, supporting people more effectively in the community could further provide vital support to the Adult Mental Health Team (AMHT), significantly easing pressure on frontline NHS staff and, in turn, increasing service efficiency.

The Report’s Key Findings:

  • 20% of referrals to the Adult Mental Health Team (AMHT) could be diverted at the point of assessment if there was existing provision.
  • A further 30% of patients currently with the Adult Mental Health Team could be eligible for referral to a peer support group. This would ease pressure on the NHS.
  • All questionnaire respondents were currently experiencing mental health problems. 75% of all respondents would access a group if provided.
  • It was understood from service users that they would like more activity-based groups away from the clinical environment.
  • Service users would like more age appropriate groups especially for people aged 18 to 35 where provision is lacking.

To read the full report, please click here