The participation of people with a mental illness is recognised as crucial to successful recovery oriented services and programs. Organisations delivering mental health services are required to be accredited against the National Standards for Mental Health Services. Standard 3 is ‘Consumer and Carer Participation: Consumers and carers are actively involved in the development, planning, delivery and evaluation of services’. Participation is also a key feature of recovery-oriented practice as outlined in the National Framework for Recovery-Oriented Mental Health Services.
What is Peer Participation?
People with a lived experience in mental health who ‘choose to’ actively participate in the planning, implementation and/or evaluation of mental health services. This participation can occur at a number of levels:
- Individual - interactions about one’s own care and active involvement in the decision making
- Service Level - where a peer is actively contributing to improving a mental health service or program area
- Organisational level - where peer participation is contributing to the strategic direction of an organisation and
- Regional level - where peer participation is contributing to an active voice on needs in their local areas to inform state/national and international policy and reform agendas
HealthWorks Australia identified through their literature scan a wide range of titles that are assigned to peer workers.
Consumers - academic, advisor, advocate, assessor, companion, consultant, coordinator, liaison officer, policy officer, provider, representative, support worker, survivor, team leader, worker or educator
Carer – academic, advocate, companion, consultant, representative
Mental Health – outreach worker, rehabilitation support worker, support worker
Peer – advocate, educator, mentor, respite worker, specialist and support worker
Some examples of types of participation identified within the Brisbane North region include but is not limited to the following:
- Active involvement in being a part of the decision making process about their own recovery processes
- Employed or volunteering as a peer support worker
- Attending and/or facilitating peer support groups
- Consumer/carer advisory groups/committees
- Peer Practitioner/Consultant
- Peer Educator
- Focus group participation
- Management Committee/Board Member
- Consumer/Carer companions in hospitals