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How peer support can help you through tough times

The last few months have been unprecedented and unusual, and even as some normality returns, it can still feel incredibly stressful. And when things feel difficult, it’s reassuring to know who you can reach out to.

It’s also important to be there for others to lean on when they need some extra support.

Peer support, whether formal or informal, is a powerful way to help others who are in the same boat through these tough times.

Formal peer support programs

Peer support programs are a well-established (and still growing) support method for first responders and emergency service personnel. For example, it’s estimated that half of all emergency services workers access peer support (and other support services) each year through internal programs.

Peer support increases your ability to access help, in two ways:

  • Giving you access to reach out to someone you know and trust, and who is trained in a support role
  • Providing peers with the knowledge to look out for others and hold supportive conversations

The research also says that the benefits of peer support programs are clear: they reduce the risk of work-related depression and stress.

Whether your mental health is a concern, or you’re keen to put some preventative measures in place during this challenging time, your workplace peer support program could be a powerful way of receiving support.

Informal peer support

Peer support also means looking out for others in your workplace and your personal life.

We all play a role in helping each other through tough situations. This is especially important when you’ve been in those tough situations together. Being able to listen, and have someone listen to you, makes a real difference as you work through the challenge.

Connecting with those you like and trust can ease stress, give you an energy boost and makes you feel supported.

Fortem’s activities can also provide an easy, informal way to meet others and to expand and strengthen your support network.

Whether you utilise formal or informal peer support (or both), there’s always someone you can talk to, who knows what it’s like to be in your shoes.

Need help now?

In the event of an emergency – phone 000

If you or someone you know need immediate help, please contact one of the below crisis lines:

BEYOND BLUE can be contacted for support any time of the day or night and provide one-on-one chats with trained mental health professionals. Their number is 1300 22 4636.

LIFELINE provides crisis support and suicide prevention services and is contactable on 13 11 14.