Peer Support : Values and Skills for Self-directed Support

Peer support was recognised first in the 18th century by Pussin and Pinel in France and has emerged throughout periods of psychiatry.  The mental health service has used peer support since the early 1990’s and over the last 20 years it has been used more and more to help people in their recovery.

The requirements for this position as a peer support worker for self-directed support would be to have a good knowledge of what self-directed support is all about and who is entitled to it. Having knowledge and a clear view of what’s involved in being a peer support worker would have to be a must for this position.

Empathy and compassion are values that would be required and they would help lead to a mutually empowering relationship. Shared personal experiences of recovery and how self-directed support made a difference to make life easier and help recovery. Experiences of how self-directed support helped in recovery would help inspire and promote self-directed support. Helping people decide what kind of things they would use self-directed support for and how it might change their life for the better but also realising people’s capabilities and expectations, and not going over that.

You are likely to face challenges and should be prepared for set backs but all this will help the peer support worker grow and learn from the experience. Mutual honesty is a needed value in peer support. As a peer support worker for self-directed support you would have to treat people with respect and of course, confidentiality is a skill you would have to demonstrate. Working in peer support, knowing your boundaries, avoiding being judgmental and promoting recovery but accepting people for where they are on their own recovery path is an essential skill you would need to know and demonstrate.

Encouraging peers to engage with different services, helping build social supports and making community connections that would make a difference and help with their recovery is a value needed for this position. Peer support in self-directed support will be demanding work, flexibility is needed and to be a role model in recovery is important in this role.

It is thought that peer workers are more gentle, honest and more humane because they have lived experience of how people feel regarding the situation that they are in and also the stigma and relationships that are associated with substance misuse.