Authors: Chris Lloyd, Robert King and Gabrielle Vilic, VIC
Event: 2011 TheMHS Conference
Subject: CONSUMERS/SERVICE USERS, peer support workers, peer workers
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Peer support is a well established component of many mental health services. Peer support workers, share their lived experience of managing their illness and negotiating their way through mental health services and in doing so, both support and model recovery. Peer support workers may also introduce consumers to other resources, supports and networks beyond the health system. Funded peer support worker positions within mental health services provide a valuable employment opportunity for people with mental health problems. The employment of people with mental health problems as providers may be seen as a critical pathway for increasing service user involvement in the mental health service system. This paper describes the development of mental health peer support services within the Gold Coast Health Service District (GCHSD). In particular it discusses how roles and functions of peer support workers have evolved and how challenges to service effectiveness were identified and overcome. It also examines the development of a related consumer companion role and considers the similarities and differences of peer support and consumer companion roles. Recommendations are made with respect to issues such as how professional staff view this role, strategic location of peer support services (inpatient versus community), what happens when peer support workers become ill and level of training and supervision.