To provide mutual support, self-help, advocacy, education, information and referral
services for individuals who acknowledge having significant problems in their lives
due to mental illness and who are seeking to take responsibility for their own growth
and recovery while supporting each other. We actively advocate for positive change
within the traditional mental health system.
123 4th Street NW, Charlottesville, VA 22903 (434)-979-2440
Peer Support is a system in which two or more people who have similar experiences
help each other. This common experience allows for more authentic empathy and support.
It is a system founded on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual
agreement of what is helpful. In this relationship, neither person has more expertise
as a supporter than the other. It is one of equality. This equality arises from
the shared experience of emotional and psychological pain. Through mutual empowerment,
the idea that each person is taking responsibility for their own recovery. The helping
is mutual. A sense of community can be rebuilt and stigmas associated with mental
illness can be overcome.
The critical ingredients for peer support are as follows:
The support must be voluntary and free from coercion.
It is consumer run and directed.
The setting is informal and flexible to the needs of the participants.
There is no hierarchy; no one is more qualified, advanced, or better than anyone
The approach is non medical; it is not our task to assess or evaluate each other,
but only to say what we see and offer our own practical knowledge. In taking this
non-medical approach we no longer create outsiders. We share rather than “handle”
These key concepts are what make peer support such a unique experience in comparison
to the more traditional approaches to mental health.
The goal here is to create the ideal helping relationship. Together, we embrace the
knowledge that crisis can be transforming, that mutually supportive relationships
provide necessary connection, and that new contests offer new ways of thinking about
our experiences. Out of this, we build mutually respectful relationships in which
we can challenge, support, and learn from each other. Through these relationships,
we begin to develop self awareness, we begin to understand change and learning not
as an individual process but as a community effort in which we work together . Peer
support gives individuals the opportunity to feel a part of the big picture rather
than a piece of the puzzle that just does not seem to fit.