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Posts tagged ‘Peer Support’

Mental Health Peer Support in Action


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.

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?



My Employment Peer Support Journey

This inspirational story highlights how a blend of support can help people set a new course and how volunteering can bring new opportunities too. The peer support eco-system!

WorkPlace Leeds


This blog has been written by one of our Job Retention Service clients who went on to access our Employment Peer Support Service, here’s what she has to say about her expeiences:

“My journey with WorkPlace Leeds at Leeds Mind began at the end of August last year when I had been off work with work related stress for 5 months. I was anxious, fearful, I felt I was a failure and I had lost all my confidence and believed I was of very little worth. The thought of returning to work filled me with dread, even though it was the goal I set myself. My first meeting with my job retention worker, Rosana was emotional, but I immediately felt listened to and supported. Through my retention worker, I began to appreciate and understand my mental health, identify negative triggers and become aware of how I had reached my crisis…

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Community stuff happening across Leeds & York

So here are a few events that are going off in the next few weeks or so:

Deaf Awareness 23rd April – York

A new initiative to encourage more staff and volunteers to take up  Deaf Awareness is now available in Yorkshire.

Signs4Life have set up an introductory workshop in Deaf Awareness tohelp staff to communicate and engage with their deaf & hard of hearing colleagues, service users, students, patients and clients in York.

The Deaf Awareness event will be taking place Wednesday 23 April 2014 at York CVS, 15 Priory Street, York (YO1 6ET) from 2pm – 4pm.

This local initiative is to help identify barriers that deaf people face and explore their culture and community but also to encourage inclusion of all people with sensory, physical or learning disabilities in York. Attendance is strictly by booking only (limited places).

For further information please contact Sara on  info@signs4life.org<mailto:info@signs4life.org

Employment Peer Support Workshop  6th and 16th May – Leeds

The Employment Peer Support service at WorkPlace Leeds is offering a new workshop (see flyer) and we’re looking for volunteers to share their stories of mental health and employment. As a volunteer you would attend a group workshop (12 people max.) where you would take part in a Q&A session and share some of your tips for maintaining your wellbeing at work. It will be a safe, supportive, peer led environment and we will pay your travel expenses. We’re running two sessions – one at Clarence House, 6pm – 8:30pm on 6th May and the second one at De Lacey House, 10pm – 12:30pm on the 16th May.

If you’re interested please fill in the form and email it back to emlyn.hagan@workplaceleeds.org.uk or call 0113 2302631 if you want a chat about the workshop or the mentoring.

Service User Network 7th May – Leeds

The Service User Network are meeting on Wednesday 7th May @ St Chad.s , Headingley, Leeds 12.45 – 3,00. Click here for more info.

 Love Arts York Festival  12-30th May – York

The first Love Arts York festival will run from Monday 12 May to Friday 30 May.  Steven Wrigley-Howe, one of our Trust’s Non-executive Directors, is directing the festival which is a collaboration between local organisations and individuals, with the aim of using the arts to get people talking about mental health and wellbeing.

For further information and details on how to get involved, please e-mail stevenwrigleyhowe@me.com or visit the Love Arts York Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LoveArtsYork

 #mHealthHabitat Show and Tell 14th May – Leeds

Our #mHealthHabitat Show and Tell events are all about exploring the intersection between health, wellbeing and digital (for example, mobile apps and websites) as well as creativity. We bring people accessing services, clinicians, developers, designers and coders together to learn, share and build relationships for collaboration.

It’s all part of our mission to create a habitat in Leeds where mHealth can flourish. We want a city where people are active partners in keeping well and in managing their health when they are unwell and we believe digital is an important enabler in making this happen. You can find out more at www.mhealthleeds.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @mHealthLeeds.

We have three speakers who will share how they are using digital in different ways to both manage their health, the health of the people they care for, and to transform health services. We’ll also have an ‘open mic’ slot for you to Show and Tell digital innovations you are developing, ask for help or share a bright idea – don’t be shy – we’d love to hear what you’re up to and how we might be able to support each other.

If you are interested in speaking at a future event, we’d love to hear from you victoria.betton@nhs.net

Service User/Carer involvement in Trust recruitment in York

Have you had experience of inpatient services  or do you know of service users/carers in York, in particular people who have had experience of inpatient services at Bootham Park Hospital, who may be willing to be involved in recruitment for our Trust? If you, or anyone you know might be interested, please could you  e-mail communications.lypft@nhs.net  to register your interest or please provide their contact details to the same e-mail address.

Participants would need to attend a short workshop session on recruitment as part of their involvement.


Feel free to drop me an email donna.kemp@nhs.net or tweet @donnajkemp to share what you have up and coming across leeds and York for folk to get involved in – event, inititive, project, intersting stuff!

And, if you do get involved in any of the above – be great to hear how it went on here, its good to share 🙂


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