Book of Proceedings: How Peer Workers Can Use Their Lived Experience to Reduce Stigma and Support the Mental Health Workforce – From a Peer Worker’s Perspective

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Authors: Kylie Harrison, SA

Year: 2016

Event: 2016 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Book of Proceedings 2016, conference papers, proceedings papers, Life Without Barriers (LWB), Community Peer Worker,

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

ISBN: 978-0-9945702-1-5

Abstract: Paper from TheMHS Conference 2016 Book of Proceedings: People. Authenticity Starts in the Heart. The Conference was held in Auckland, New Zealand 23 - 26 August 2016.

Life Without Barriers (LWB) was established in 1995 in Newcastle NSW. From humble beginnings with one service contract supporting a small team of clients living with disability, to a national organisation with over 4,200 employees, contractors, carers and volunteers, providing services to more than 11,500 clients. LWB support children and young people needing out of home care, people living with a mental health issue, refugees and asylum seekers, homeless people, and young people in the justice system. We are a values-based organisation committed to achieving positive outcomes for all clients.
At LWB our core values are; building relationships, being imaginative, respectful, responsive and courageous. We build relationships so that we can transform lives. We are imaginative in our thinking and open to new ideas of doing things. We are respectful, caring and courageous in our convictions and stand up for what we believe in. Our person centred principles are about sharing values, empowering people, and working as a team.
I am a Community Peer Worker in the LWB metropolitan mental health team. I have worked with LWB for seven years and I am still very passionate about my role. One of my roles as a Peer Worker is to deliver presentations to community groups and provide mental health awareness with the aim to combat stigma. My other tasks include partaking in interview panels for new recruitment and doing speeches as part of orientation for new workers. I am a consultant to the Community Rehabilitation Support Workers (CRSW’s) based on my lived experience and I visit with consumers to give them hope that recovery is possible. I have also been involved in running groups. We run four groups a week, including art, writing, coffee and music groups. I love the variety in my role as a Peer Worker and have a real passion to reduce stigma.
There are many benefits for mental health services to employ Peer Workers and this paper will promote how the lived experience is an invaluable resource in reducing stigma. This is especially true of our mental health service in South Australia and particularly our Community Education Program (CEP) delivered by our Community Peer Workers (CPW’s).

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