Mental Health Peer Support in Action
A ray of sunshine arrived via email recently, it made me go “YES!” and the author, Andrew Johnson, agreed that it was ok to share. This reiterates the importance of access to peer support for people experiencing mental health difficulties:-
Hi Donna –
I was lucky enough to be around the other day whilst one of LYPFT’s Peer Support Worker’s was busy about their usual business. What I witnessed was a brilliant, yet entirely ordinary piece of work and I felt I had to pass comment.
The three parties involved (worker/patient/carer) had a prior knowledge of each other achieved through use of services and the therapeutic relationship was pre-established and well grounded. This enabled the PSW to freely discuss the benefits and disadvantages of a particular anti-psychotic medication that they themselves had experience of using in a way I had not witnessed before, seamlessly interweaving relevant clinical information with social themes and everyday off topic conversations. Familiar recovery barriers around professional distancing, stigma et al just didn’t stand a chance!
The rapport, warmth and authenticity on display during this interaction made a real impression on me and really underlined the value of sharing Lived Experience in practice in an atmosphere of mutuality and collaboration.
Sure I understand that not all practitioners – and not all patients – value the ‘timid revolution of Lived Experience in practice’, but if we are really serious about improving health, improving lives then we must find a way of doing more.
Learn more about Lived Experience in the Workforce here.
At the March Service User Network (SUN) meeting there was a discussion carried forward from the previous meeting. The SUN members wanted to explore areas that they would like choice in. The following two questions were addressed at tabletop discussions, and the responses are condensed:
1. What would you like choice in?
- Which service I am involved with
- Choice of worker and who I work with – gender, CPN/Support worker/care coordinator, access to different professions, seeing the same worker
- Appointments – flexibility in where we meet
- Involvement in planning care – reviews: how often, who attends, what is discussed; involved in agreeing care plans;
- Medication – the different options, including not taking any medication, easy access to a second opinion
- Treatment and therapy options – CBT, DBT, TC; what we do not want and what we do want, including ECT; access to complementary therapies; mindfulness
- Access to peer support – including courses (Mind), easy access
- Personal independence budgets
- Where I live and the things I do – like cooking, what I eat, and watching sport
- To have the right to make my own choices
2. How would you like to be treated as an individual within Mental Health and Learning Disability services?
- Treated as a person, not an illness
- As an equal – regardless of my characteristics
- Non-judgementally – with respect, compassion and understanding
- As an intelligent person – just because I have a mental health problem doesn’t mean I’m stupid – people can talk down to you!
- As an expert in my own issues and life
- As a customer – eye contact, honesty, humane, respect my sense of urgency in crisis
- To be talked to, listened to and liked – to be seen as worth getting to know and be with
- That my feedback is accepted – that what I say has value
These points will be discussed at the April SUN meeting and next steps in moving this forward decided. How would you like to see this – as a charter? a ‘best practice’ support? All ideas welcomed!
What is your view from a mental health professional, carer or partner agency perpective? Feel free to comment…..
Please leave a comment if you have anything to add to these suggestions…….
The next SUN meeting is on Wednesday 2nd April at St Chad’s Community Hall in Headingley; the guest speaker will be Dr Jim Isherwood, LYPFT’s Medical Director – click here to see the flyer. All are welcome to attend, but if you can’t get there, please feel free to post any comments or questions you may have for him here or email firstname.lastname@example.org