What is Peer Support?
Peer support is the “process of giving and receiving encouragement and assistance to achieve long-term recovery.” Peer supporters “offer emotional support, share knowledge, teach skills, provide practical assistance, and connect people with resources, opportunities, communities of support, and other people.” In behavioral health, peers offer their unique lived experience with mental health conditions to provide support focused on advocacy, education, mentoring, and motivation.
Through shared understanding, respect, and mutual empowerment, peer support workers help people become and stay engaged in the recovery process and reduce the likelihood of relapse. Peer support services can effectively extend the reach of treatment beyond the clinical setting into the everyday environment of those seeking a successful, sustained recovery process.
Peer support statistically improves engagement and satisfaction with mental health services and prevents the need for crisis-based interventions like hospitalizations.
What is Recovery Language?
Recovery language is rooted in respect and empowerment. It's about trying to see things from the other person's perspective -- and discovering truths about ourselves and our experiences.
- Respectful of individuals and the diversity of our experiences
What are "I" Statements?
"I have a diagnosis of schizophrenia; for me, that means I have lived experience of hearing voices."
I am a Voice Hearer."
- Enable you to be the author of your own experience
- Help you to create a sense of vulnerability and openness
- Do not include blame or criticism
- Convey your unique experiences
What is Stigma?
Stigma is a negative belief about a group of people. Stigma reflects the attitudes and beliefs that lead to discrimination. The use of stigmatizing language can be a way of distancing ourselves from things we don't understand -- or don't want to understand.
MHASF addresses three kinds of stigma: Public, Structural, and Self.
Public stigma involves the general misconceptions society holds about mental health challenges; for example:
- We're violent and dangerous.
- We can't work or contribute to our communities
- We can't be stable partners or reliable parents
Structural stigma happens when Public stigma gets worked into systems. When that happens, power can be leveraged against people with mental health challenges who may be in vulnerable life circumstances. SOLVE speaks directly to groups who hold the power to affect the lives of people with mental health challenges, including:
- Law enforcement
- Medical Providers
- Public Policy Makers
- The Media
Self-stigma comes from the messages we hear in our lives that tell us we ought to feel about who we are, and ashamed that we've experienced mental health challenges. Self-stigma can be the final barrier to recovery for many of us who live with mental health challenges, even after progress with Public and Structural stigma has been made.
How Does MHASF Fight Stigma?
YES is a speakers bureau style training series that develops participants' skills as mental health speakers for young adults aged 16-24. YES participants raise awareness about mental health conditions and the need to respect those experiencing challenges. This work seeks to reduce mental health stigma in the community.