As part of the Peer Support Project, GAMIAN-Europe hosted its second workshop on the 15th of November, 2023, focusing on the transformative role of peer support in mental health. Following the same logic with the first meeting, this virtual workshop delved into the essential aspects of peer support, training, and supervision, highlighting their significance in mental health care.
The workshop was moderated by Sonia Thompson, Co-Director of the Survivor Researcher Network and With-You Associate. Her insights into the field of mental health research and peer support set the tone for an engaging and informative session. Shortly after Dr. Chiara Samele presented the peer support project, showcasing the strides made in this area and the impact of these efforts on individuals with mental health challenges.
The participants, coming from various backgrounds in the mental health field, pinpointed the importance of lived experience in peer support, and how this shapes the dynamics among peers as well as the values that need to underpin these practices. Empathy, recognition, awareness and empowerment emerged many times during the workshop as elements that need to be integrated in the framework of peer support training. When it comes to ideal trainers, both experts by experience but also professionals can take up this role, provided that they consistently follow the quality framework and enable co-reflection.
Regarding the challenges in peer support work, it has been noted that they arise due to the discrepancies between the expectations and the actual work of peer support workers. In order to tackle them, it is important to emphasise on sound communication and a mutually empowering relation between trainers and peers via supervision. In this way, experts by experience feel empowered since they can use their “own voice” to boost their credibility and maximise their contribution as peers.
The moderator as well as the participants reiterated the critical significance of trust and rapport for peer support practices; it is vital to create a safe and mutually beneficial space that allows people to come in as their most authentic self and learn through similar experiences. Peer support workers should respect the values and the framework provided but they should not neglect to demonstrate empathy.
Do you wish to be part of this must-attend series of workshops?
Join us on the last virtual workshop for 2023 on Digital Peer Support: Innovations and Interventions, on the 13th of December 2023, 14:00-15:45 CET by clicking here.