A Peer Supporter or Peer Support Specialist is a person that is hired because of his/her lived experience with mental health and/or substance abuse issues. The intention is to bring service user experiences into the services, and to systematically give service users/patients acces to service user experiences. A Peer Supporter has a unique opportunity to use his/her experiences from mental health/substance abuse services to help others in the same situation. A Peer Supporter will see his/her experiences in a larger perspective and reflect on this with other staff. Through cooperation and counceling a Peer Support Specialist contributes to developement and innovation of mental health/substance abuse services.
Practice and attitude development through Peer Support Specialists in Outreach teams
In 2013 KBT startet a two year project where we hired Peer Support Specialists in two ambulatory outreach teams in the Central Norway Regional Health Authority. The project was named “Praksis- og holdningsutvikling gjennom erfaringskonsulent i ambulante team” [Practice and attitude development through Peer Support Specialists in Outreach teams], and was conducted at Nidaros DPS and Tiller DPS. An evaluation of the project showed that the Peer Supporters had a great significance in the personal contact with the patients. They were bearers of hope and able to contribute coping strategies to the patients.
Peer Supporters in municipal mental health and substance abuse services, the Municipality of Trondheim
This project is a collaboration between KBT and Trondheim Municipality. The goal is to strengthen the collaboration between employees in the services and service users, through better understandings of communication and recovery. Three Peer Supporters are employed in KBT, but their day to day work is within the Municipality.
The Peer Supporters have different tasks and work areas. Madeleine Hedenstad works as a Peer Supporter in the Municipality’s three meeting places; Sommerstua, Veiskillet and Heimdal. She works with coordinating activities for the visitors of the meeting places and with one-to-one conversations. Marthe Siira works with following up people that receive support from the Recovery Team. She also partakes in talks and presentations about the team’s work. The last Peer Supporter, Ingelin Anderssen, works in municipal housing through contact with residents. This means conversations, help with practical tasks or other things that the residents need support for. The Peer Supporters also partake in office meetings and strategy work within KBT.
Courses for Peer Supporters and their employers
KBT offers courses on Peer Support. December 12th and 13th 2016, Peer Supporters and colleagues of Peer Supporters from Oslo, Rogaland, Oppland, Sør-Trøndelag and Nord-Trøndelag attended our first course on the Peer Supporters’ roles and functions. This was the first initiative from KBT to create an environment and contact between Peer Supporters in Central Norway specifically. The course was successful.
KBT offered new courses on Peer Supporters’ functions in mental health and substance abuse services in Norway, in Tromsø the 2nd and 3rd of October, and in Trondheim the 5th and 6th of October 2017. Talks were held about recovery and anti stigma work, reflection about practice, relations and patients’ rights.
Conselling and advice for peer supporters
The Peer Support Specialists that are employed through KBT receive group based counselling once a month, in addition to counselling from their work place. Our group couselling is based on mutual reflection about the issues Peer Supporters face. We want this couselling to pertain to specific subjects like recovery and professionality, but we also wish for the Peer Supporters to be able to talk about their every day work and issues regarding that. Peer Supporters that are not employed in KBT are also welcome to take part in this counselling. Contact us for more information.