Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

Individual Peer Support: A Qualitative Study of Mechanisms of Its Effectiveness

Community Ment Health J. 2014 Dec 23. [Pubmed Abstract]

Individual Peer Support: A Qualitative Study of Mechanisms of Its Effectiveness
Gidugu V, Rogers ES, Harrington S, Maru M, Johnson G, Cohee J, Hinkel J

Peer-delivered services for individuals with psychiatric conditions have proliferated over the past three decades. The values and principles underlying peer support have been explored, but we lack an understanding of its mechanisms of action. To shed light on the processes of peer support, we conducted a study with individuals who had received substantial individual peer support. We completed individual interviews, audiotaped, transcribed, and examined them using a thematic analysis approach. Our analyses suggest that individual peer support provided various practical, emotional, and social supports which were perceived as beneficial. Participants valued having someone to rely on, a friend, and someone to socialize with. We, however, found that individuals’ expectations of peer support did not always comport with available services. Participants viewed peer support as especially valuable because of the opportunity for a non-treatment based, normalizing relationship. We conclude that peer support complements rather than supplants needed traditional mental health services.


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