A pluralistic approach to peer support

Townsend, Eleanor (2021) A pluralistic approach to peer support. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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Abstract

Research Purpose: This research explores how individuals with experience of emotional or mental distress use different forms of community-based peer support to enhance their well-being, specifically in one to one, group and online settings. Research Background: Attention has been paid, in recent years, to the potential of peer support to enhance the well-being of individuals experiencing mental or emotional distress. However, existing studies tend to concentrate on forms of peer support in isolation. Recent research suggests that a plurality of use exists, whereby individuals actively choose to access more than one form of peer support to improve their well-being. It is important to revisit the landscape of peer support to develop a better understanding of the motivations and experience driving this plurality of use. Research Design: Data was collected through 18 in-depth qualitative semi-structured interviews. Participants were recruited through a strategy of purposive sampling. All had experience of at least two forms of peer support. Research Findings: Individuals use different forms of peer support in both sequence and combination to enhance their well-being. Personal agency plays an important role in how and why individuals use different forms of peer support. Different forms of peer support make nuanced, diverse and sometimes unique, contributions to individual well-being, especially in supporting individuals to reframe their experiences, source new forms of social support and participate in reciprocal giving. Research Conclusions: Research findings demonstrate the importance of community-based peer support as part of the welfare landscape and illuminate new complexities around the way in which individuals use and experience different forms of peer support. Whilst mental health policy tends towards short-term use and formal one to one peer support, this research illustrates that individuals benefit from using a variety of forms, and the importance of ensuring the availability of different forms of peer support.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: community-based, peer support, mental health, well-being, pluralistic
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2021 17:25
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2022 15:23
URI: https://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/707207

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