Marsh Award for Mental Health Peer Support
This Award is run in partnership with Mind and recognises excellence in peer led support for those experiencing mental health problem. The Award is a way of acknowledging local peer led groups who provide support to their peers with a mental health problem within their community and who work to make a difference to people’s lives.
In it's first year, the Award recognised a group and an individual who had made an active contribution to help those experiencing a mental health problem.
Nominations for the Award are judged by an independent panel who select a group and individual Award winner.
Mind works to improve the lives of people with experience of mental health problems. They provide advice and support to empower people and campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding in the area of mental health. For more information on their work please visit www.mind.org.uk
The 2016 winner is Evolve Peer Support Group
Evolve is a peer support group for teenagers aged 13-19 who struggle with their mental health and want a safe space to talk and find people who understand what they are going through. It was started as a response to the lack of services in the local area of Croydon for those suffering with mental health, and finding themselves isolated and without a much needed support network. The group is open to all people, regardless of whether they have been diagnosed with a mental health issue. As well as holding fortnightly group meetings, Evolve has a strong online community, with a lot of activity and discussion taking place amongst members on social media.
Evolve is run by people with lived experience of mental health and the group has proved to be a crucial resource for the local community, with a number of members going on to becoming the group leaders. Through volunteering with Evolve, members are able to gain confidence, skills and a reference for their CV’s, all of which could help them gain employment. The group runs sessions on art, music, writing, positive thinking, exercise and coping strategies, which are devised thanks to the feedback from members on previous sessions. Every member of Evolve is given the opportunity to speak at events and share their experiences, both during the group sessions and larger events such as “Evolve Day” which was attended by over 100 people.
Recently, the group has been working on their own book, named “Evolving”, wherein each member will have their own chapter sharing their experiences. The group are hoping that the book will be published, and any money raised from its sales would go partly towards developing the group, partly to other charities (such as Samaritans and Mind) and also to each book contributor. Evolve do everything they can to include people of all faiths, sexual orientations, genders etc. and try to break down the stereotypes and barriers that make people feel unable to speak openly about their mental health. Many of the group’s sessions centre around recovery and what that means to the members and a lot of time is spent talking about coping strategies, treatments and role models. The group shares all aspects of each member’s journey and has become an important support network for people in the area to turn to.
Three other peer support groups were also recognised for their outstanding work:
- Greater Manchester Police Mental Health Peer Support Network
- Get Help, Give Help (Manchester Mind)
- Barnet Depression Alliance
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