Peer support

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					Peer support

Peer support is social and emotional support provided by people with experience of illness to
others sharing a similar condition to bring about a desired social or personal change
(Solomon 2004).

Peer support can be provided informally through mutual support of friends and acquaintances
sharing similar experiences; through the provision of user-run services; or through formal peer
support where people with experience of mental illness take on specific roles within or
alongside mental health services.

Peer support workers, who have achieved significant improvements in their own condition,
offer acceptance, respect, empathy, support, companionship and hope and share
experiences and ideas about how to cope with mental illness (Mead et al 2001).

Users’ feelings of loneliness, rejection, discrimination and frustration are recognised,
understood and reduced, most likely through a number of psychosocial processes (Solomon
2004). Users gain increased hope, autonomy, personal responsibility and problem-solving
skills (Davidson et al 2006).

Benefits for peer support providers have also been identified (Salzer & Shear 2002).

Woodhouse & Vincent (2006) provide a useful summary of some of the relevant literature,
which can be downloaded free from the website for the Scottish Recovery Network.


Davidson et al (2006) Peer support among adults with serious mental illness: A report from
the field. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 32, 3, 443-450.

Mead et al (2001) Peer support: A theoretical perspective. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal,
25, 2, 134-141.

Salzer & Shear (2002) Identifying consumer-provider benefits in evaluations of consumer-
delivered services. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 25, 281-288.

Solomon P. (2004). Peer support/peer provided services: Underlying processes, benefits and
critical ingredients. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 27, 4, 392-401.

Woodhouse & Vincent (2006) Mental Health Delivery Plan: Development of Peer Specialist
Roles: A literature scoping exercise. Scotland, Scottish Recovery Network.

Jun Wang Jun Wang Dr
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