Strengths of Peer Support

Peer support is more than just a profession, it is a revolution that has only just begun. The movement was driven by consumers of mental health services since its infancy and continues to advance through widespread support from service users, advocates, families, and communities. Peer support workers are powerful role models, mentors and advocates who inspire hope in those with whom they work, while fighting the good fight against the deficit-based medical paradigm.

Peer supporters are permitted to meet with peers where they live, work, learn, or socialize. They tend to spend more time with people they serve, thus are able to establish meaningful and productive relationships. The flexibility in peer work provides the people they serve with a more thorough recovery plan that is developed by the person rather than a service provider.

Peer Supporters Offer The Following Types Of Support1:

Emotional: Demonstrate empathy, caring, or concern to bolster person’s self-esteem and confidence

Informational: Share knowledge and information and provide life or vocational skills training.

Instrumental: Provide concrete assistance to help others accomplish tasks

Affiliational: Facilitate contacts with other people to promote learning of social and recreational skills, create community, and acquire a sense of belonging.

The main areas that peer supporters work on are advocacy, connecting to resources, experiential sharing, building community, relationship building, group facilitation, skill building, mentoring, goal setting, socialization, and self-esteem building. By working with the people they serve to develop multidimensional wellness plans, peer workers serve to reduce the overall cost of healthcare services.

According to Mental Health America, “Peer support lowers the overall cost of mental health services by reducing re-hospitalization rates and days spent in inpatient services, increasing the use of outpatient services. Peer support improves quality of life, increases and improves engagement with services, and increases whole health and self-management.”2

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2009). What Are Peer
Recovery Support Services? SAMHSA.
https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma09-4454.pdf

2. Evidence for Peer Support. (2018, May 20). Mental Health America.
     https://www.mhanational.org/sites/default/files/Evidence%20for%20Peer%20Support%20May%202018.pdf

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