Oxford Health is running a free training programme for people with lived (first-hand) experience of poor mental health who would like to use this experience to help others on their recovery journey.

People completing the new peer support training will have the chance to apply for the new paid Peer Support Worker roles, which will be advertised in July 2018.

Will Gibson, Peer Support Coordinator for Oxfordshire said:
“Everybody’s experience of poor mental health is different and each person brings with them their own unique insights and knowledge. Peer Support recognises the potential value of these experiences.

“Our mental health teams aim to work in a ‘recovery-focussed’ way. This means viewing a person as a whole, and starting with what’s strong, not with what’s wrong.

“There’s increasing evidence that employing people who have experienced mental health problems to support others, alongside clinicians, encourages this way of thinking and working.

“Peer support workers are embedded in mental health services around the world, with particular success in Australia, New Zealand and the United States, and research shows that peer support workers help people by increasing feelings of hope, sense of empowerment, ability to self-manage and by promoting social inclusion.”

Locally, many community-based mental health charities already draw on the value of lived experience.

Our partners at the Oxfordshire Recovery College employ ‘Experts by Experience’ as tutors to design and deliver courses alongside professionals. Ruth Eames, one of these  ‘Expert by Experience’ explains the benefits of working collaboratively:

“Peer support bridges the gap between what works, on paper, and what we believe can really work in our lives.

“Over the years I’ve been given many useful models and tools, and truly wonderful support from professionals with vast and varied titles, but it wasn’t until I was able to talk to people who’d lived through, and could talk about and describe, the same struggles that I was having that I really believed I could use those tools for myself.

“I think it’s important that professionals and experts by experience work together because without the professional’s knowledge, we lack direction and without our peers to guide us, we can lose sight of real hope for change.

“Professionals helped me to make sense of my illness and my peers empowered me and gave me the hope I needed to carry on.”

Find out more about our peer support training and other opportunities to get involved in shaping our services. Applications due by 1st March 2018.