Monday, August 9, 2010

Peer Project - Mental Health Commission of Canada

A posting on the Mental Health Commission of Canada's website:

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has launched the Peer Project to enhance the utilization of peer support through the creation and application of national standards of practice. It is also designed to encourage a change in societal attitudes towards mental illnesses through peer based education strategies specifically targeting youth in schools and adults in workplaces. The project supports and shares in common a number of the objectives related to key initiatives and other projects of the Commission and its advisory committees.

The use of peer based approaches is founded on the belief that people who have faced, endured, and overcome the adversity of mental health conditions can offer beneficial support, encouragement and hope to others facing similar situations. Peer based services, i.e., peer support delivered in conjunction with mental health education delivered by peers can greatly enable Canadians to better understand and accept the realities of mental health challenges, leading to a more supportive society.

It is recognized that there are valuable and effective variations regarding the way peer support is provided in Canada and a “one size fits all” approach is not what the peer project intends to develop. A chief concern is to not lose sight of the grass roots, community based practices that have characterized the success of this type of mental health intervention.

The Mental Health Commission believes, however, that before organizations of different types and sizes are willing to further invest in peer based initiatives, evidence-based frameworks will need to be developed. The literature on peer based services in Canada and other countries suggests that the lack of adequate empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of peer delivered interventions has impeded their growth and wider-scale use. Consequently, the design of both project components will be underpinned from the very outset with performance measurement and evaluation strategies.

Developing standards of practice will provide frameworks to enhance the credibility of peer based services. Standards of practice are established by identifying the competencies, experience, training/education, and values, which together constitute the hallmark for providing effective services.

Obtaining the views and input of stakeholders is a prominent feature of this project, particularly in relation to the peer support component at this stage. The Project Team is currently planning a comprehensive consultation process with the initial goal to develop standards of practice for peer support that will be implemented and tested beginning with workplaces.

As the Peer Project evolves, updates will be posted to the web site to allow interested parties to follow the development of this endeavour.

Also see:

Definition of ‘Peer

Peer Project Outline

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