What is Peer Support?
Peer support can take many forms including, but not limited to, mentoring, counseling, skill development, and insightful listening. Peer support is an exchange of knowledge and lived social, emotional, or practical experience through the journey of recovery.
Who provides peer support?
Certified or trained peers provide supportive services (although peers can provide support without prior training). Often titled Peer Support Specialists, individuals with significant lived or life-changing experience assist others through recovery related to mental health, substance use, or psychological trauma. Their life experiences add expertise that professional training is unable to replicate.
Peers help people cope with stigma and improve quality of life through a person-centered approach and with an understanding the road to recovery is different for everyone. Peers advocate by circulating relevant news and resources to the community while promoting diversity and inclusion centered on growth and understanding.
What is recovery?
Recovery focuses on reducing symptoms limiting day-day activities and maintaining control to experience a healthy quality of life. Aspects to maintain a healthy quality of life include:
Establishing and managing effective relationships
Financial health and satisfaction
Commitment to life-long learning
Establishing and participation in community
Creating and maintaining personal peace
Maintaining movement of the body
Recognizing the need for support
Recovery looks different for everyone despite common challenges like stigma, symptoms, and self-image. Mental health professionals can manage symptoms associated with psychological health via medicine, cognitive behavioral therapy, and methods aimed at reducing harm. It is essential to remember peer support services can bridge a gap between the road to recovery and mental health professionals, which includes encouraging access to clinical services as appropriate. While mental health professionals may focus on shorter treatment goals, peer support is designed to meet continual long-term support.