Information and support

Dear family members!

In the framework of psychenet – Hamburg network for mental health, Hamburg is breaking new, exemplary ground: People with mental illness and their families are supported early on, and in a sustainable manner, through peer support. The word "peer" means that this is an offer involving people who experienced psychiatric disorders by themselves or their relatives. We see peer support as a network in which experienced users and their relatives are available to other users and relatives who are dealing for the first time or repeatedly with mental problems in order to accompany them and to support recovery.

Our family peer counselling

Family peer supporters have gathered a great deal of experience in dealing with their own affected family members. In their supporter education and training by the Relatives Association and Ex-In Hamburg, they have exchanged possibilities and found ways to help their family members on the road to recovery, while at the same time looking after themselves.

If you have a relative with a mental illness and are seeking support, you are welcome to turn to us – you will find us in the following Hamburg psychiatric clinics:

Our locations (German version)

As relative peer supporters, we offer you

  • Easing the burden in crisis situations and exchanging experiences
  • Information about social situation, perspectives, illness
  • Fostering your awareness of your own limitations
  • More information through an equal status
  • Facilitate ways to suitable contact points

Peer support is confidential and free of charge, and you determine the frequency and duration. The peer supporters themselves are accompanied by regular coaching and supervision.

Peer support builds a sub-project of psychenet for the promotion of self-help and family-help as well as for trialogical treatment concepts (developed by care system users, relatives and therapists) in Hamburg.

Relatives need encouragement

For many family members, the beginning of an inpatient treatment of their sick family member means that a high hurdle has been jumped. Due to their lack of insight into the illness, they often had to wait a long time for it. But they still can't breathe a sigh of relief. As parents of a young adult in the middle of training or a degree course, they naturally ask themselves what the future career prospects will be; as the partner of a depressive patient, they wonder what path the professional and family future will take. Agonising questions, for which there is little time for answers in the hectic routine of a clinic.

Usually, professional treatment providers can only be expected to give brief answers, but the need for conversation and support of the family members is huge. Peer support – which is unique in Germany – wishes to fill this often painful gap. With the help of the Relatives Association of Hamburg, within the peer-support project, 16 counsellors were selected, trained, and employed by eight participating clinics. In a room of the clinic, they offer counselling conversations to family members seeking advice during open consultation hours or by appointment.

All of the peer supporters have mentally ill relatives and know the worries and hardships from their own painful experience, but are just a little further along in terms of accepting the illness and of trying to distance themselves from the burdensome situation. After a long conversation in which the family members simply wanted to express themselves or asked for advice in a concrete situation, there is a win on both sides: The person seeking advice has some relief and comfort, and the counsellor is happy because his personal experiences of crisis management have been helpful and important for others.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Bock
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy,
University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf

Martinistr. 52 
20246 Hamburg
Tel.: +49-40-7410-53236
Fax.: +49-40-7410-55455

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