We are on a mission to make Peer Support available when and where you need it.
We are on a mission to come along side you and help you with your life’s journey.
We make Peer Support available when and where you need it.
SOME HELPFUL INFORMATION ABOUT PEER SUPPORT
Who is a Peer Supporter on Hey Peers?
Our Peer Supporters are individuals with “lived experience” – someone who has who has had challenges that are like yours and they have learned some things about how to manage them. Most of the Peer Supporters on Hey Peers are Certified Peer Specialists or Certified Recovery Coaches. This means that they have completed training for helping others. They are skillful at listening and helping you to find a path forward. Some of our Peer Specialists are licensed therapists or other types of professionals but on Hey Peers they provide peer support.
What Does a Peer Supporter Do?
Our Peer Supporters work with participants one-on one and in groups to help them develop options and encouragement for dealing with the issues they are experiencing. They help you to create a plan and assist you in making it work. They serve as a sounding board and in group meetings help you to try out your ideas or ask questions of others. Our Peer Supporters know a lot of different techniques you can consider trying and they also have great group facilitation skills.
Can Peer Support Help Me?
Some comments from our participants:
“ I am very thankful to have taken part in this meeting. Having someone with an outside perspective and experience with the same issues I've been dealing with was very helpful and a new experience to me. I hope to connect with more people this way. Thanks for listening. ”
“ This experience was a blessing; I came away from the meeting feeling better. I related to others and learned more about depression as well as some techniques for recovery. ”
“ It is so refreshing to hear other people who are also experiencing problems and hear what they do to help themselves. ”
These post meeting, anonymous participant comments provide a powerful testimony to peer support. They illustrate just a few of the reasons peer support is being applied so successfully.
Reason 1: It Works
Individuals who receive peer support do as well or better than those receiving conventional treatment for depression (see Pfeiffer. et. al, 2011). Peer support has also been shown to reduce hospital readmissions by 73% in a 2011 study by Optum/Yale Medical School. Our own recent study of web conference-based peer support groups participants reported a 69% reduction in hospital readmissions and a 49% reduction in the use of emergency room visits for behavioral health issues, and peer support is being applied to chronic conditions such as diabetes and traumas such as post-cardiac events.
Reason 2: Lived Experience—and More
Certified Peer Specialists (CPSs) have “lived experience” with their condition, giving them credibility with participants that few other members of the health team will possess. They have achieved and maintained their recovery, providing a constructive, positive role model for participants, and reducing stigma issues during their meetings.
This lived experience is not enough, however. To become a CPS, an individual must receive 40 to 120 hours of training on how to help others, passed a certification exam, and in some states, they must meet continuing education requirements. Most CPSs receive regular support from a licensed professional.
Reason 3: The Participants Themselves
Finally, although Certified Peer Specialists are skillful and inspiring people, a careful reading of our anonymous comments brings out something that might not be expected. The participants are helping each other to heal - it is powerful to talk with others who are having a similar experience.
As our participants have noted, peer support:
- Provides external perspectives from fellow sufferers
- Helps people not to feel alone or that their problems are unique
- Help individuals learn about new ways to deal with their problem
- Reduces stigma, inspires, motivates, and restores hope
- Gives individuals the opportunity to experience the satisfaction of helping someone else
- Attempts to bring out the best in each person involved
- Is a safe place for individuals to share their fears and concerns
What does science say about the value of peer support? (from the U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Much evidence supports that peer support is a critical and effective strategy for ongoing health care and sustained behavior change for people with chronic diseases and other conditions, and its benefits can be extended to community, organizational and societal levels.
Overall, studies have found that social support:
- decreases morbidity and mortality rates
- increases life expectancy
- increases knowledge of a disease
- improves self-efficacy
- improves self-reported health status and self-care skills, including medication adherence
- reduces use of emergency services
Additionally, providers of social support report less depression, heightened self-esteem and self-efficacy, and improved quality of life.