A digital place for people who access services, carers, staff and partner agencies, to share ideas around care co-ordination & care planning in mental health

Posts tagged ‘Peer Support Workers’

Mental Health Peer Support in Action

sunbeam

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. 

 Andy

Learn more about Lived Experience in the Workforce here.

Access to peer support ………. inadvertent gatekeeping?

“Have you been given information by NHS mental health services about getting support from people who have experience of the same mental health needs as you?”

This is one of the NEW questions in this years National NHS  Community Mental Health Service User Survey. The focus is about people having been given information about getting what is termed ‘peer support’ – support from people who have lived experience of mental health issues.  There is lots of information about peer support to be found on-line, for example – Together for Mental Wellbeing, Mental Health Foundation and Centre for Mental Health.  And there is information about where you can access peer support locally, for example in York, or in Leeds.

This information being available to people in a number of ways is better – having a discussion about it, accessible leaflets etc. Better still is people routinely being supported by peer support workers. This is where the conversation moves away from vanilla:

  • Access to peer support workers in mental health teams. Fab, but how do we ensure this is equitable, how does everyone get the chance of this?  A referral system within a team can be helpful but can highlight some interesting things.  Speaking with a peer support worker it became apparent that the same care coordinators refer for peer support work and the same ones don’t. There could be a number of explanations for this, and I am sure it couldn’t be that some care coordinators don’t value peer support work or working in a recovery/wellbeing orientated way, that they are not choosing whats best for someone rather than offering choice and are not inadvertently gatekeeping and creating power differentials. So we must look to alternative explanations.
  • Could it be said that most people have some lived experience of mental health issues, through their own life experiences or through that of their family and friends? If so, then people are routinely being supported by peer support workers. Mission accomplished, box ticked. But this is not quite right, this is hitting the target but missing the point. It diminishes the experiences of people with mental health issues.
  • Should recruitment to all posts actively encourage people with lived experience? Perhaps this is already happening but what about choice?  Should people have to disclose their lived experience, and if they don’t will they be discriminated against in selection?
  • Peer support on Social Media? – whatever next! An alien concept to some, but there is ever-growing peer support on social media channels.  People regularly blog, Tweet and Facebook about what’s going on for them and its reciprocal. The support offered is pretty immense.  It bypasses the ‘referral’ stage and is instant. A beginner’s guide to Twitter should help if you are working up to Tweeting.
  • The influence of National Survey’s in changing practice.  The benefits of using approaches that support recovery and wellbeing are well established and backed by research.  The National Survey results will tell us what people accessing services are experiencing, are folk being given information about accessing peer support – or not. The question creates a standard and measure.  The danger is of it providing a minimum standard, I would not want to see the current provision of  ‘in-house’ peer support reduced based on a standard of providing information only.

People currently accessing mental health services are future peer support workers, the eco-system of peer support. Often people want to share what they  have learned along the way, want to give something back, want to achieve their ambitions and goals. People  understand that they have a unique view of living with mental health issues, that they are ‘experts by experience’  rather than an  ‘expert by education’. Perhaps a blend of both is often where we find ourselves at?

 

 

Choice & how people want to be treated: key messages from SUN

SUN logo

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 donna.kemp@nhs.net

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