ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Peer Support in Mental Healthcare

“Peers” are a resource that can be tapped into to support a wide variety of people in the mental health system. These are people who have lived experiences of recovery in mental health. This kind of support offers the peers a meaningful work opportunity, financial and social empowerment, and consolidates their recoveries. It also helps those who are currently suffering by enabling them to experience a peer’s caring and supportive assistance, patient listening and helpful advice in view of the hurried and professional approaches of mental health professionals.

Persons with lived experience of recovery need to occupy senior leadership roles impacting social policy, system management, planning, education, programme development, and evaluation, according to Bryne et al (2018: 76). In citing evidence from many locations around the globe, where the recovery approach has been incorporated in the mental health systems, these authors investigate the role of people with lived experience in success of the recovery approach. People who have lived experiences of mental health are known as “peers,” and though peer support has been around in minuscule ways in India, herein lies a potential resource that can be tapped into to support a wide variety of people in two ways. First, it offers to the people who take on such roles a meaningful work opportunity, empowering them financially, socially and psychologically, while consolidating their recoveries significantly. Second, this potential workforce can have significant impact on people who are currently suffering by enabling them to experience a peer’s caring and supportive assistance, patient listening and helpful advice in view of the hurried and professional approaches of mental health professionals, who are often hard pressed to respond to large numbers of patients.

To understand the full potential of the role that peers can play in the recovery of individuals who currently suffer from mental health issues, one may want to cast a brief look at the historical development of this phenomenon. In its contemporary manifestation, the peer support movement began in the mid-1970s, in the United States (US), as ex-patients began to gather around the country and lobby collectively for reforms in mental healthcare and against the discrimination associated with mental illness that they had experienced. In addition to political advocacy, the origins of this movement were in the established tradition of self-help and mutual support, a tradition that permeates American culture (Davidson et al 2006: 443). Peers are persons with mental health conditions who, though without professional credentials, are employed as service deliverers in the mental health provider system. They are hired as role models, counsellors, educators, providers of assistance to meet the needs of daily living, and as advocates to empower people with mental health conditions (Gates and Akabas 2007).

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Updated On : 23rd Jun, 2020

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