Being a Peer Support Worker
by Kelley Lee, December 2017
Being diagnosed with a mental health condition in 2013, I didn't think I would or could recover and have a normal life again...
As one of the first Peer Support Workers (PrSWs) recruited for the Mental Health Services following an open competition, it has been exciting to become part of this new discipline. It's amazing how I've been able to turn such a negative and dark time of my life into such a positive thing. Using our lived experience of mental health challenges, we PrSWs bring a whole new perspective/dimension to the mental health services. We are fully integrated into those services and sit as equals on the multidisciplinary teams (MDTs).
As experts by experience, we have an understanding of what the people we work with and support are going through. We use our lived experiences to help those we support on their recovery journeys, by linking them back into the community, by helping them to create or renew a social life, by supporting them to return to education or employment or by doing such simple things as going for walk, enjoying a cuppa coffee or getting a bus . These are the little things that we take for granted when we are well.
Our aim is to inspire hope and empowerment, boost self-esteem and confidence to those we work with, and show that recovery is possible, as we are the proof that you can have a good quality of life after a diagnosis or other mental health challenge.
(Kelley Lee is a Peer Support Worker in the South East)
Implementing Peer Support Work
by Gerry Maley, December 2017
The current review of the implementation of PrSW has already provided an insight into the positive changes for services users...
...as well as first-hand accounts from staff from all disciplines in MDTs of a better awareness of the language and approach used by teams, making them more recovery oriented and person-centred. The review has been overwhelmingly positive with requests for “more peer support workers please” been repeated around the services where they are already in post.
(Gerry Maley is Business Manager to the Head of Mental Health Engagement. He was formerly a Principal Social Worker in South East)