Experiencing challenges with your mental health can sometimes feel lonely and isolating, and for many of us, reaching out and talking about it can be tough and often feel vulnerable.
Despite this, we've seen the power of having people who can relate to what you're going through and creating a community for our mental health. In peer support, this means being open to, and in support of others.
Our team has pulled together resources and tips which may make this experience more comfortable.
We all contribute to a safe, supportive environment in peer support.
Having our cameras on, being active listeners and taking steps to be present are all ways we can create a comfortable group environment.
Below are resources and tips on:
Being present with one another when we talk about mental health can can help us all to feel safe, supported and cared for. But what listening looks like can be different for different kinds of listeners!
For some, physical cues like nodding or maintaining eye contact is how they comfortably actively listen, but something like colouring or doodling may also be something that can help us focus or process what's being shared!
Below are just some of the ways we can all help others to feel heard in peer support:
When joining a peer support group, ask yourself,
"How do I best hear and understand when others are sharing?" or
"How do best show that I am active listening?"
Peer support can be a great way to care for ourselves, but it can also feel vulnerable, especially when we can see one another while sharing. There are a few suggestions which could provide ease when joining a peer support group with your camera on.
Hide Zoom Self View:
If you find being on Zoom more comfortable or less distracting if your own camera screen is hidden from your view, you can hide your camera view from self using the following steps:
We encourage all Rising Together participants to enable a virtual or blurred background when joining peer support groups. This could help take the pressure off of you having others see what is in your space, but you can also use a background which can help you enjoy the experience (make you feel calm or happy)!
To turn on a virtual background:
To turn on a blurred background:
Bring an item or have one near by that give you feelings of calmness, comfort, or security. This could include a snack or food, or any item to hold or just look at!
Come prepared with talking points or notes which can help you share.
During peer support, we welcome participants to move around, use a fidget item, engaging in self-stimulating behaviours, or any behaviours which support your experience (and do not harm others in the group).
For individuals who are neurodivergent, masking is a common coping mechanism to fit into a neurotypical society. We aim for Rising Together to be an inclusive space and one where we challenge the norm of what is 'socially acceptable'. This means that we encourage everyone to participate in ways which are authentic and comfortable.
If there are other steps or suggestions which could improve your on-camera experience in peer support, we'd love to hear from you.
Please reach out to our team member, Ivana at email@example.com.
In peer support sessions, no one is forced to share when they aren't feel up to it, or to share anything they aren't comfortable. While we do require group participants to check-in and check-out during the group, participants are also welcome to check-in/out privately with facilitators.
Other ways you can engage, support, and share in peer support include:
Using facial expressions, nodding, and facing the camera / person speaking, are all ways we can be active participants during group sessions.
We know that joining a Rising Together peer support session and talking about mental health isn't always easy. Sometimes, especially when it's a new space, it can also bring up feelings of anxiety, nervousness, or stress. Our team wanted to share a few messages of support and encouragement if you're considering joining or have registered for a group!
The amazing thing about peer support is that our facilitators have been there before and can relate to a lot of the feelings you may be experiencing, and it's okay to feel this way.
As individuals who have experienced mental health challenges, we understand how hard it can be to reach out for support and we recognize how remarkable it is for you to explore this step in your mental health journey.
"We know it might be hard to go outside of your comfort zone sometimes. It can be a different, scary and challenging experience. But sometimes these experiences can allow us to learn, build and grow as a person in ways we haven't imagined."
"While it's very common and sometimes hard not to, try not to be afraid of what others might think when you use your voice and share your experiences. There is no right or wrong. Sometimes it's better to say what you think rather than nothing at all because it may help us move forward and take positive steps for personal growth."
"When it comes to joining a peer support group with your camera on, it's an opportunity to connect more with others."
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