Authors: Catriona Bastian, Katie Peters, Kerry Stringer
Event: 2015 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Peer Workers, Peer Health Coaching, neami national recordings neami recordings
Type of resource: Audio
Abstract: Studies have shown that people with severe mental illness have a mortality rate two to three times as high as the general population. This translates to a 13-30 year shortened life expectancy, and about 60% of this excess mortality is due to physical illness . The benefits of peer support work have been recognised and utilised in mental health recovery for many years now. The peer workforce is the most rapidly growing workforce in the mental health sector. The focus of health coaching is empowering and supporting consumers to make health behaviour changes designed to minimise chronic disease risk factors, better manage their health and promote optimal health outcomes. Neami National partnered with SANE Australia to implement a peer-led initiative to improve the physical health outcomes of people living with mental illness across Australia. As we near the end of the demonstration project, Peer Health Coaches discuss this exciting role in a presentation of their rich experiences that illustrate both their personal and professional growth.
"I learnt that the most important skill is listening to a consumer's needs."- Peer Health Coach, VIC
Whilst we saw drastic consumer improvements in physical health and health literacy, there was an equally significant impact on the Peer Health Coach professional development as well as the wider organisation?s approach to physical health.
"The Peer Health Coach had a fantastic influence on the site, encouraging us to make healthier choices which we in turn role-model with consumers."- Support Worker
Peer Health Coaching demonstrates the potential and capacity of the lived experience workforce to enable positive behaviour change and reduce the burden of disease among people living with mental illness.