What Is A Peer?

From Our BlogBecome a Peer Helper section | August 1, 2020

Hushley Team

Peer Support in Mental Health

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels

Mental health is becoming a prevalent issue in the world today. With staggering figures of the number of individuals suffering from one form of mental health issue or the other, it is important peers are brought in to help the situation. Today, about 450 million people are suffering from one or multiple mental health conditions. Considering that the supply therapist and mental health professionals are unable to meet the demand, Peers are the best way out. 

Who Are Peers?

Peers or peer support can be defined as receiving and giving nonprofessional care from individuals who have gone through similar situations or circumstances. Recently, there has been a dramatic rise in the adoption of peers as an alternative for treating mentally ill patients. However, this form of treatment needs to be overseen by a professional to ensure no harm comes to either the peer or the patient.

The Role Of Peers In Treating Patients

As a peer, you are to provide support for your patients by helping them through situations you once passed through. Peers give solutions they’ve tried out themselves; they help people feel better and share their experiences on some issues. One clear and common example of the peer system is what we see being practiced in AA meetings. Many times patients who suffer from mental illnesses are unable to afford a professional. Only one in seven mentally ill patients ever opt to see a professional, which is only another reason to have peers. By using peers, patients who were previously stuck and suffering can experience comfort at far lower prices, sometimes free. This support system has also proven to be more reliable as individuals can call their peers whenever they have a rough day. 

The Peer Determination Process

Considering that peers are just regular people with experience, everyone could be a peer. With a few qualities in place, your boss, relative, or friend could fill the role of a peer. What determines if this will be effective is how determined both parties are. When the peer and the patient commit, that system stands a better chance at survival.

Qualities Of A Good A Peer

To make a good peer, said individuals should be

  • Caring
  • Genuine
  • Accept patience wholeheartedly
  • Understanding
  • Helpful
  • Trustworthy
  • Show concern for others
  • Able to listen

These are what form the foundation of the Peer system of support. As an evidence-based practice, the Peer support system has shown real benefits to the health of patients and a reduction in costs of services.


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