“Peer Support is a system of giving and receiving help founded on the key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful. Peer Support is not based on psychiatric models and diagnostic criteria. It is about understanding another’s situation empathically through shared emotional experiences.” (Sherry Mead-2003)
Peer support refers to services provided by and for people who have had similar life experiences. It is rapidly becoming one of the most valued, accepted and effective approaches to assist people who experience mental health and addiction issues. Peer support is unique because it fosters values including self-determination and equality, mutuality and empathy, recovery and hope. This approach can take many forms: peer support groups, one to one mentoring, crisis services such as residential and warm lines, support in employment and creative activities. Its potential is limitless. “It’s not so much what peers provide that makes the difference, but who provides it and how. “The use of positive self-disclosure and role modelling are key in peer support work because it fosters the development of trust, empathy and hope.
Studies have shown that people who use peer support have similar or better outcomes to people who use traditional services only. The evidence for peer support in mental health/addictions has developed rapidly over the past decade. People who use many different kinds of peer support report high levels of satisfaction and positive changes in their lives. These include:
- Reduced substance use.
- Reduced experiences of psychosis and depression.
- Reduced use of health services, including hospitals.
- Increased social support, networks and functioning.
- Increased ability to cope with distress.
- Increased quality of life.
- Increased ability to communicate with health professionals
(Source: Making the Case for Peer Support: O’Hagen, Cyr, McKee and Priest, Mental Health Commission of Canada, September, 2010).
Peer Support in the Drop-in:
The Krasman Centre operates two mental health drop-in centres one in Alliston and the other in Richmond Hill. The drop-in is a safe and supportive place that emphasizes helping individuals feel autonomous. The centre helps people help themselves, and one another. It is a place where there are no demands and no pathologizing-where one can just relax, enjoy and experience what the peer recovery movement has to offer.
The Warm Line and Peer Crisis Services:
The Warm Line and Peer Crisis Service is a telephone peer support line for anyone in York Region, South Simcoe and the Central LHIN (Local Health Integration Network) living with mental health issues or in need of emotional support. The Warm Line and Peer Crisis Service is available 24 hours; 7 days a week. The Warm Line’s toll free number is:
Peer Support Education Groups:
Pathways to Recovery
Pathways to Recovery is a tool to help people move forward in mental health recovery. It is an extensive self-help workbook. The workbook orients people to recovery, helps them to identify their personal strengths and dreams, and refocus on reclaiming positive sources of identity and a life beyond being a person with a psychiatric disability or a full-time consumer of mental health services. It helps people think about and plan how to live a full life.
(Wellness Recovery Action Plan)
WRAP stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan. It’s a program that was developed in Vermont, USA, in 1997 by Mary Ellen Copeland and a group of friends who had all experienced the mental health system. The WRAP program involves an educational and planning process that is grounded in mental health recovery concepts such as hope, education, empowerment, self-advocacy, and interpersonal support and connection. Within a group setting, individuals explore self-help tools (eg. peer counseling, focusing exercises, relaxation & stress reduction techniques) and resources for keeping themselves well and for helping themselves feel better in difficult times.
PeerZone is a series of three hour peer led workshops in mental health and addiction where people explore recovery and whole of life wellbeing.
The workshops fall within five themes:
- Understanding ourselves
- Empowering ourselves
- Working on our wellbeing
- Connecting to the world
- Exploring our unique identities
PeerZone works on three levels for participants:
- It invites them to rebuild a more positive story of their lives.
- It offers tools for whole of life wellbeing.
- It creates a community of mutual support.
Click this link to view our peer support flyer Peer Support Pamphlet