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Shared stories, shared strength: The impact of the Nova Scotia Peer Support Phone Service on mental well-being

I'm Fine. Nova Scotia Health Peer Support campaign poster.

In the complex tapestry of mental health, one thread stands out as a beacon of hope and resilience: peer support.

Beyond the clinical settings and therapeutic interventions, the simple act of individuals supporting one another has proven to be a powerful force in the journey towards mental well-being.

At the heart of peer support is the unique ability to foster genuine connection through shared understanding. 

This shared experience provides the opportunity for people to feel seen and heard, reducing the often-isolating nature of mental health struggles.

Nova Scotia’s Peer Support Phone Service offers a safe, judgement-free, empowering space to talk about how you’re feeling. Peer supporters are ready to listen and understand because they have been there themselves.

"With the Peer Support Phone Service, you're sure to get someone with lived experience and an inherent understanding of many difficult situations,” said Brandon, a peer supporter with the service. “We’re always here, working within our boundaries to offer a tailored space just for you – a comfortable place to help you sort through whatever it is you need to get off your shoulders.”

One of the cornerstones of peer support is the sense of belonging and connectedness. Research consistently shows that people who feel isolated are more vulnerable to mental health struggles. Peer support and sharing experiences within a supportive community provides a sense of validation and understanding that can be transformative.

The service is intended for individuals who feel isolated, alone, anxious, sad, concerned or who need support and to talk to someone. Reasons for calling can be anything from having a tough day at work, feeling down, substance use, grief and loss, struggling with supporting a loved one, or going through a rough patch in a relationship.

"Before I called the Peer Support Phone Service, I felt like I was drowning in my emotions,” said a caller who has chosen to remain anonymous. “After talking to someone who truly understood my struggle, I felt a glimmer of hope. No advice, just empathy. It made all the difference."

Peer Support Phone Service staff are individuals who have navigated their own mental health journeys, bringing a unique perspective to the conversation, and are trained in peer support. Every phone call is more than a conversation — it's a narrative shared between two individuals. By openly discussing experiences and challenges, both caller and peer supporter contribute to dismantling the stigma surrounding mental health.

"When giving support on our phone service I've found it's extremely important to keep an open mind and lead with compassion,” said Brandon. “Peers call us for a variety of reasons, with their own unique lived experiences. With keeping that in mind, I do mybest to provide peers with a non-judgemental safe space.”

The simple act of sharing can be powerful, helping to provide comfort, understanding and hope.

The Peer Support Phone Line is a partnership between Nova Scotia Health’s Mental Health and Addictions Program, Mental Health Innovations and the Nova Scotia Government Office of Addictions and Mental Health.

Speak with a trained peer supporter Wednesday to Friday from 5:00 to 11:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. by calling 1-800-307-1686.

Learn more by visiting: 

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