“Peer support is a system of giving and receiving help founded on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful. Peer support is not based on psychiatric models and diagnostic criteria. It is about understanding another’s situation empathically through the shared experience of emotional and psychological pain. When people find affiliation with others they feel are 'like' them, they feel a connection. This connection, or affiliation, is a deep, holistic understanding based on mutual experience where people are able to 'be' with each other without the constraints of traditional (expert/patient) relationships." (Mead, 2001)
Informal peer support has always been provided by friends, family and peers. Formal peer support services have been provided by grassroots community organizations and groups in Victoria for more than 30 years. Over the last 10 years, however, the sharing of lived experience has been increasingly recognized as an integral, complementary part of the recovery journey in mental health. Formal recognition has led to increasing numbers of paid peer support roles and a diverse range of terminology, services, activities, practices, protocols, research and resources. These have been developed by individuals, community and special interest groups, health professionals, government departments and support agencies, all aiming to harness the power of peer support for consumers of mental health services and their families/care givers. (Center of Excellence in Peer Support)
Peer Support Specialists are people living in recovery with mental illness and / or substance abuse and who provide support to others whom can benefit from their lived experiences. The North Carolina Certified Peer Support Specialist Program (NCCPSS) provides acknowledgment that the peer has met a set of requirements necessary to provide support to individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues.
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