Peer Support is a unique and valuable service that greatly improves the lives of individuals living with mental health needs and/or challenges related to addictions. As a non-clinical, evidenced-based approach to care, peer support is a vital link in helping someone navigate the health system, locate and access community resources, and find their personal path to wellness.
In late 2016, CMHA Middlesex was selected by the SW LHIN as the lead agency for Peer Support services in London and Middlesex. We look forward to making current peer support programming more robust and offer more formalized one-to-one opportunities. We will continue to recognize the value of a full spectrum of Peer Support which includes the informal model already found in many of our programs, groups, and walk-in/drop-in services. We will also partner with others to develop best practices and create wider access to peer supports.
What is Peer Support?
Peer support is a powerful opportunity for a person (Peer) living with a mental health need and/or addiction challenge to connect with another person (Peer Supporter) who has experienced a similar challenge and has gone through their own recovery process. The expertise or lived experience of the Peer Supporter can give the Peer a unique perspective on finding and maintaining recovery. The commonality of, “I get it. I have been there too,” can build an authentic, therapeutic rapport of empowerment and hope. Peer Supporters in designated roles receive education and training to ensure they have the right skills for the role. We endorse the provincial and national principles and standards of practiced established by the Ontario Peer Development Initiative and Peer Support Accreditation and Certification Canada.
Transitional Discharge Model (TDM)
Major life transitions, such as moving from hospital to community, while recovering from a mental health challenge can be overwhelming. Having supportive relationships with professionals, family members/friends, and peers can reduce the symptoms of distress you may feel during your recovery. Our peer support service, called the Transitional Discharge Model, supports individuals during this delicate time. Researchers at the Lawson Health Research Institute have shown that individuals matched with Peer Supporters show improved quality of life, an increased sense of social connection, and fewer hospitalizations. Peer Supporters give Peers the courage to regain strength and resilience, and move forward in their lives.
Once matched with a volunteer, a Peer in the TDM program will meet once a week in the community with their Peer Supporter for a mental health promoting connection. The Peer Supporter will listen to you and support you in your recovery. This may include assisting with problem-solving or learning a new skill, or by sharing tools and resources specific to your wishes. They are there to be a positive mentor for you. Your Peer Supporter may also link you with CMHA programs that might be of interest and benefit to you. Would you like to learn more? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you interested in Peer Support?
CMHA supports a range of Peer Support opportunities. We have informal drop in programs, structured and unstructured groups, and formalized one-to-one Peer Support offered in select programs. We are developing a wide-range of formal Peer Support Programs. As new opportunities are available, we will update this page.
To request more information or to access this program, please fill out our welcome form or contact one of our sites.
Can I become a Peer Supporter?
Here are some of the qualities and skills required to be a Peer Supporter:
- Lived experience of serious mental illness and/or addictions
- Empathetic, approachable, patient, encouraging, and self-aware
- In recovery and maintaining
- Skilled communicator i.e. ability to listen actively, selectively share with a focus on wellness, not illness
Of course, the skills you bring to CMHA will be complemented with OPDI’s Peer Support Core Essentials Training Program.
Interested in becoming a peer volunteer? Email us at email@example.com.