The MI Fellowship has already demonstrated the effectiveness of peer-led counselling with their 10-week support program designed to join with adults on their walk to recovery.
The program focuses on building relationships between people with similar experiences. As presenter Kate Higgins revealed, the MI Fellowship provides “a program designed by those with a lived experience of mental illness, for those with a lived experience of mental illness, delivered by those with lived experience of mental illness."
This award-winning system is now being translated to work with young people suffering from poor mental health. The program is led by peer workers Samatha Buis and Mia Thiedeman-Brown, MI Fellowship, in cooperation with Eastern Health. The MI Fellowship program has undergone new innovations to cater for a younger audience.
One of the fascinating new inclusions to the youth program is the use of music. While it can be hard to express one's feelings into words, peers using chosen songs to share their emotional state allows them to express themselves in a way that feels safe. The shared listening to the songs of other group members also allows the peers to have a unique common experience, building deeper connections to each other on an emotional level.
Music is also used to empower young people to gain some control over the effects the past, present and future. By creating playlists to describe each life state, peers can map out their road to recovery in a way that is accessible and understandable to others, yet intimately personal. It allows young people to look into their past safety, knowing that moving towards and away from those memories could be as quick as pressing a button on the playlist.
This use of music is one of several youth-specific innovations that have led the MI Fellowship youth program to excel at reaching young people on their own individual roads to recovery. In reflecting on the key to success for peer learning, Mia explained, "We are the voice of future hindsight."
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