Peer Workforce

There has been a recent increase in the number of mental health services that have developed consumer, carer and peer paid work policies including Metro North Mental Health Hospital Health Services, Brisbane North PHN and some local service providers.

Paid ‘peer’ positions exist but primarily through the PHaMs program in the region.  Other services have indicated that while they don’t have dedicated ‘peer’ roles they do promote having a ‘lived experience’ in key selection criteria for Mental Health Support Workers and other like positions.

Data from the recently commenced Peer Participation in Mental Health Services Network meetings have shown that from the 70+ peers that attend the network meetings, approximately 25% are identified ‘peer workers’ and another 30% are employed in mental health services and have a lived experience and recovery in mental health (though this is not necessarily disclosed to the employer).

Some useful resources that have been identified around employment opportunities are listed below.

Peer Work Hub

The Hub is a new online resource for employers developed by the Mental Health Commission of NSW. Its purpose is to provide evidence and advice for employers on how and why they should develop a mental health peer workforce within their organisation. The Hub also provides a Toolkit to support organisations developing a peer work force. The need to grow, build and strengthen NSW’s peer workforce is a priority in Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024.

Click here for more information about Peer Hub

Health Workforce Australia

The literature suggests that peer workers can provide an important and useful complement to the traditional teams delivering mental health services. Particular benefits of using this workforce can include improving the recovery orientation of services; better engagement with people using services; reduction in hospital admissions; and reduced load on other practitioners. For some people using services and their families and carers, peer workers offer an improved experience of treatment, care or support.

The purpose of this Literature review is to report on the findings of the mental health peer workforce (MHPW) study, and to provide a set of recommendations that will strengthen and develop the mental health peer workforce as an important component of quality, for recovery-focused mental health services.

For more information on health workforce Australia's literature review, click here

The Lived Experience Workforce Project (LEWP)

The Mental Health Council of South Australia have developed the NGO Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce Standards and Guidelines. The standards and guidelines are intended to assist organisations that employ staff as mental health Lived Experience Workers and offer a self assessment template to measure how your NGO is tracking in a successful implementation and ongoing support of your Lived Experience Workforce. 

Centre for Mental Health Learning Victoria 

Strategy for the Consumer Mental Health Workforce in Victoria. The  strrategy describes the required activity needed to adequately support and develop the consumer peer workforce and should be carried out in partnership and with leadership from consumer workers. 

Strategy for the Family Carer Mental Health Workforce in Victoria. The strategy describes the required activity needed to adequately support and develop the family carer peer workforce and should be carried out in partnership and with leadership from family carer workers. 

Mind Australia and Helping Minds

A practical guide for working with Carers of people with a Mental Illness. The guide recognises carers are a crucial component of any partnership approach to service delivery.  Click here for more information. 

Mental Health Commission NSW

Video and other links of related in peer work from forum held.

Click here for more information

Queensland Centre for Mental Health Learning

Excerpts from training resources around the peer workforce.

Click here for further information

Queensland Mental Health Commission 

The QLD Mental Health  Commission’s seven point plan to improve employment prospects for people with disabilities includes: Create inclusive workplaces, tackle stigma, improve employment programs, construct new types of jobs, create a ‘pull effect’, increase numbers of opportunities in the public service and improve participation in education and training.

For more information click here

Mental Health Branch, Department of Human Services, Victoria

This study was conducted to gain a better understanding of the consumer workforce; the issues facing consumer workers in relation to recruitment and retention; and the contribution of consumer perspective work in mental health services.  It aimed to identify recommendations for systematic planning, support and career development of the consumer workforce in the mental health sector to ensure the growth and sustainability of this workforce.

Click here for more information

Gold Coast PHN

Peer Workforce Development Plan 2015 including templates.

Click here for more information

Centre for Mental Health Workers UK

Peer Support Workers: a practical guide to implementation – Centre for Mental Health Workers (UK – Published 2013)

Based on a recovery framework, this guide is aimed at assisting organisations in the mental health sector to implement meaningful and well supported peer worker initiatives. It identifies the four phases of developing peer worker posts as preparation, recruitment, employment and ongoing development with practical tools like position descriptions and an ethical code of conduct for supporting peer work in practice. Developed in response to earlier research by the Centre for Mental Health that found ‘the widespread introduction of people with lived experience of mental health problems into the mental health workforce is probably the single most important factor contributing to changes towards more recovery-oriented services’.

Click here for more information on this guide.

Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (SHARC)

The Strategy for the Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Peer Workforce in Victoria. Describes the required activity needed to adequately develop, support and sustain the workforce and aims to assist policy developers, funders, AOD peer workers and their employers work towards developing a thriving peer workforce.