The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) has called for greater emphasis on the role of peer support in mental health and learning disability services in a new briefing paper.

The paper, Peer support in mental health and learning disability, highlights the benefits of peer support and how it can help people to recover or get more control over their condition, and live fulfilling lives in their communities. It includes examples of some of the MHF’s work within the area.

Additionally, the paper outlines the benefits of peer support for services, individuals receiving support and the person giving it, which include:
• Better mental health
• Increased sense of wellbeing
• Increased confidence and learning skills.

As well as the recognised health benefits, peer support can save money in the long-term, by reducing overall costs, hospital admissions and bed days.

Simon Lawton-Smith, head of policy at the MHF, said: “Peer support can be hugely important in supporting individuals in mental health recovery and, together with self-management techniques, can empower individuals to take control of their lives and put themselves back in the driving seat.

“It’s fantastic that Governments across the UK are promoting peer support in their mental health strategies. However the benefits will only be seen if local commissioners and providers of services make peer support a core part of service delivery for people with a mental health diagnosis or learning disability. There’s still a long way to go.”

The briefing can be downloaded here: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/peer-support-briefing/