PEER SUPPORT DURING COVID-19
ABOUT PEER SUPPORT

Peer support has long been acknowledged as an integral part of addressing behavioral health. Peers share lived experience with a particular experience, situation, or event, providing a mutual bond and sense of “we’re all in this together.” According to Mental Health America, peer support programs can:
  • increase social support and participation in the community
  • reduce symptoms and improve well-being, self-esteem, and social functioning
  • decrease lengths of hospital stays and costs of services
  • encourage more thorough and longer-lasting recoveries

Peer support leverages shared experience to foster trust, decrease stigma,
and create a sustainable forum for those seeking help and sharing information about support resources and positive coping strategies.

MHA's Center for Peer Support offers a wealth of information about peer support, including reports, research, webinars, and a peer certification program. MHA's local affiliates offer peer support programs. MHA recently hosted a webinar on Peer, Friend, and Self Support in the COVID-19 Crisis .
NAMI provides advocacy, education, support and public awareness. Originally focused on teens and young adults , NAMI now offers programs for family members and caregivers , veterans and active duty, and LGBTQ .
SAMHSA's mission is to improve the lives of those living with mental and substance use disorders. SAMHSA provides core competencies for peer workers, tools for those supervising peer workers, free training and technical assistance , and a great overview of the value of peers.
PEER SUPPORT AND MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH
Maternal mental health issues are often temporary and treatable, with proven steps to wellness that include a combination of self-care, social support (often peer support groups), therapy, and medication. New mothers frequently feel isolated and alone,
and peer support groups offer an opportunity to connect with others sharing similar emotions. Knowing that other new mothers are having difficulty with anxiety and/or depression can be reassuring and validating. Support groups provide a safe, nonjudgmental space to talk and peers can offer tips for navigating emotions, relationships, and the challenges of motherhood. Best of all, peer support is FREE!
You are not alone. You are not to blame. With help, you will be well.
The March of Dimes has launched a weekly Facebook webinar series entitled Healthy Moms, Strong Babies. This week's webinar focused on maternal mental health during COVID-19 and featured MMHLA Executive Director Adrienne Griffen and Board Member Pooja Lakshmin, MD. The first webinar addressed maternal health with a special focus on obstetric care during the pandemic.


VIRTUAL SUPPORT GROUPS. Most in-person support groups have pivoted to virtual meetings during the pandemic. It is impossible to list all the groups, but here are two good places to start: The Bloom Foundation and MomsWell offer FREE support groups for moms and moms-to-be regardless of location.
SUPPORT FOR THOSE SUPPORTING NEW MOTHERS

SUPPORT FOR DADS. The Center for Men's Excellence is offering Facebook Live talks for new and expectant dads every Thursday in April at 5 pm EST; topics include hands-on newborn skills, keeping the relationship strong, and resources during the coronavirus pandemic. PSI has a whole page of resources for fathers.

SUPPORT FOR LEADERS. Everyone needs support during the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.
WHERE DID PEER SUPPORT FOR NEW PARENTS START?
Jane Honikman is an author, coach, speaker, and trainer who has been talking about pregnancy and bringing baby home for almost 50 years. Jane, along with her friends in Santa Barbara CA, started the social support movement for new parents in the United States when they launched Postpartum Education for Parents in the 1970s. Jane then founded Postpartum Support International in 1987 and the Postpartum Action Institute in 2015. Jane's vision is that every community in the world has a postpartum parent support network.
Working with Policy Makers to Address Maternal Mental Health Challenges
MMHLA -- founded in 2018 -- is a nonpartisan 501(c)3 non-profit organization
dedicated to promoting the mental health of childbearing women in the United States
by advocating for universal education, screening, referral, and treatment
of postpartum depression and related maternal mental health (MMH) challenges.

Our vision is that all childbearing women in the United States will be educated about and screened for maternal mental health challenges and have access to resources for recovery.