What is Peer Support?
Peer Support is Mental Health's Missing Link
Peer Support is about people with lived experiences supporting each other on the road to mental health recovery. It’s life-changing and it works.
The Philosophy of Peer Support
A Peer Support worker has lived experience of mental health challenges, is in a positive state of recovery, and has been trained to support others. In a mental health system that can often be hard to navigate, having a supportive relationship with someone who has “been there” is life-changing. That’s why many call Peer Support mental health’s missing link.
The Peer Support movement emerged in the 1970s, when people impacted by the mental health system began advocating for more control over their own lives. Peer Support recognizes that people with lived experience—people who “get it”—have an essential role to play in recovery. Nowadays, Peer Support is a recognized part of the health care system and there are various organizations that offer formal training in Peer Support Work.
Peer Support is rooted in the principles like:
- Hope is the starting point for recovery—and a peer can provide an authentic hopeful example.
- Recovery is focused on achieving a person’s self-defined potential and quality of life, not “curing an illness”.
- Recovery is people- and relationship-centered, not focused on reducing symptoms of an illness.
Peer support relationships are equal and empathetic, with both parties experiencing benefits.
The Benefits of Peer Support
Peer-reviewed evidence shows that individuals who are in Peer Support relationships experience:
- Higher empowerment and hope
- Greater ability to do achieve their goals
- Greater social connectedness
- A life-enhancing ability to share stories
Strengthened in these ways, people are more likely to take ownership of their recovery, creating a higher quality of life on their own terms.