Lesson 4 of 9

Setting up Your Peer Group


Defining your Peer Group

Please turn to page 12 of your workbook and write down your own ideas for some different peer groups. When completing this task, listen to the examples in the video above, and consider the following:

  • Social focus – peer support with a social focus has an emphasis on informal socialising among peers, such as having a chat over a cup of tea. It allows people to come together with others who have similar experiences without emphasising the active sharing of those experiences. Mental health might come up as a topic of conversation from time to time, but is not the focus of the group. This type of group helps to reduce isolation and provide an opportunity for meeting other performers without the pressure of having to talk directly about their experiences of social and emotional challenges.
  • Support Focus – This type of group has a focus on peers coming together to share their experiences of the social and emotional challenges they may be facing.  This can include discussion of specific diagnosis, lived experience and the impact on performing, and/or tips and coping mechanisms. Peer support with this focus is usually run in a structured way – such as speaking one by one around the circle in the case of groups or allowing peer support pairs equal amounts of time to speak. This supports a balance between more vocal and less vocal members, and helps to ensure peers have equal opportunities to give and receive support.
  • Activity focus –  peer groups with an activity focus brings performers together by involving them in an activity they can do together. This could include a wide range of activities such as yoga, meditation, poetry or collaborative writing  In contrast to peer groups that focus on socialising, activity-based peer groups allow peers to focus on doing an activity and can reduce anxiety about having conversations with people they may not know well. This can be especially helpful for new members just joining the group.
  • Learning Focus – Peer support groups focused on learning and personal development are focused on giving peers knowledge and information about mental health and a range of other issues that may impact on their wellbeing. You could, for instance,  develop a structured course with a designated number of lessons focused on a particular skill related to managing social and emotional distress (for example, a course on managing performance anxiety). Alternatively, you could include one-off educational lessons on mental health in your peer group. Peer groups which are focused on learning can also address other issues that have an impact on the wellbeing of peers, such as financial 

Within Samwell you can choose whether to make your group public, private or hidden. 

  • In a public group anyone who is a member of the Samwell community can join. These are sometimes referred to as open groups.
  • In a private group, members of the Samwell community must request to join, giving you control over participants. These are sometimes referred to as closed groups. 
  • In a hidden group, only YOU can invite specific members of the Samwell community to join.


Deciding on the Focus and Aim of your Peer Group

Turn to p13 of the workbook as answer these questions. 

  1. What is the aim of the peer group you would like to set up? If you’re not sure yet don’t worry, just pick one as an example e.g.  reducing social isolation, giving peers an opportunity to openly discuss their experiences?
  2. How will you communicate the aim of the group to others?
  3. What skills or experience are needed for running this type of group?


The final task is a quiz which you will see below. Please complete this now. Once you have completed the quiz you have reached the end of lesson 4  – congratulations.