Promote peer support

May 3, 2017

Peer support is a great tool for people with mental illness.

Peer supporters are trained to provide support and understanding, help people navigate the mental health system, link people with community services, and support work towards personal goals. Peer supporters are people who have personal experience with mental illness.

Many provinces and communities run peer support programs, which play a helpful role. But there is a need for peer support and advocacy programs that address the specific needs of workers. It can be incredibly helpful for workers to be able to turn to someone who is in recovery from mental illness and knows how to provide help and support to others navigating the often-confusing aspects of dealing with employers and the medical system. The labour movement should consider whether starting these kinds of programs within the movement could be useful for workers and their families.

Because peer supporters have experienced mental illness themselves, peer support programs must be grounded in a safe environment—those coming forward to offer to be trained as peer support volunteers need to know they will not be stigmatized for their current or past state of mental health or substance use.