Man2Man is our telephone based peer support service from a trained StrongMen volunteer with first-hand experience of losing a loved one.
Men who contact StrongMen for support will be offered the opportunity to speak with one of our trained volunteers for a friendly chat. Each beneficiary will receive up to six weeks of peer support from StrongMen.
The service seeks to capitalise on the connection felt between two people with similar shared life experiences, simply knowing your volunteer has empathy with your situation maximises trust without fear of judgement.
All of our peer support volunteers have attended the StrongMen Weekender.
What is Peer Support?
Peer support is built on empathy based around shared experiences, focusing on your strengths, rather than weaknesses with the goal of achieving wellbeing and recovery. It may be social, emotional or practical support but, importantly, peer support is mutually offered and reciprocal, allowing you to benefit from the support whether you are giving or receiving it.
Though the language of peer support is relatively new in the UK, in practice self-help groups and mutual support has been around for many years. In Canada and the USA, peer support in its various forms has been a widely recognised and utilised resource that has been developing since the 1960s. In recent years there has been an increasing emphasis on the value of peer support in the UK.
Research has shown that peer-run self-help groups yield improvement in psychiatric symptoms resulting in decreased hospitalisation, larger social support networks and enhanced self-esteem and social functioning.
Peer support comes in a range of guises including listening, mentoring, education, tutoring and meditation, our service is based on “peer listening and discussion”. Our volunteers have been trained in a variety of counselling skills including active listening, verbal and non-verbal communication, confidentiality and problem solving.
The benefits of peer support are wide ranging including the peer support workers themselves, helping improve their mental health, key to this being the increased empathy and respect that peer supporters have for the individuals they support. Providing and receiving support increases self-esteem, confidence and positive feelings that increase the ability to cope with mental health problems.
Peer support also has significant benefits to the NHS with earlier intervention relieving the pressure through reduced hospital admissions for those taking part.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been over 40,000 extra deaths in the UK alone. These families will be reaching out for support. In line with what we know about the way men seek support for bereavement, we expect men to put themselves last when it comes to helping their families deal with their bereavement. It is vital that a visible support service dedicated to men is available. We are already seeing male suicide numbers increase year on year and without direct action, this will continue to rise through 2021 and beyond.
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