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VA Palo Alto Health Care System

 

Peer Support Services

Welcome to Peer Support Services! Peer Support Services are offered in mental health clinics and some primary care clinics throughout the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.

What is Peer Support?

Peer support is a system of giving and receiving help founded on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful. It is a process dedicated to promoting empowerment and self-determination in the service of recovery.

What is a Peer Support Provider in a mental health setting?

A peer support provider is a person with a mental health and/or co-occurring disorder, who has been trained to help others with these disorders identify and achieve specific life and recovery goals. This person is actively engaged in his/her own recovery, and volunteers or is hired to provide peer support services to others engaged in mental health treatment.

What is the purpose of a Peer Support Program?

- To provide opportunities for Veterans to take control of their own recovery.
- To teach and support the learning of skills needed to facilitate one's recovery.
- To make Veterans aware of available services and choices.

- To help Veterans develop a sense of wellness and self-worth.
- To bring a unique perspective to the treatment teams on which they work.

What do trained Peer Support Providers do?

Climber pulling another climber up a mountain They serve as role models by sharing their personal recovery stories, showing that recovery from mental illness is possible. They teach goal setting, problem solving, symptom management skills, and a variety of recovery tools. They empower by helping others identify their strengths, support, resources and skills. They advocate by working to eliminate the stigma of mental illness. They act as community liaisons by identifying social support in the community and encouraging the expansion of local community resources.

Advantages to Peer Support

Studies have demonstrated the positive impact peer support makes to the recovery of people with serious mental health conditions:
- Improves social functioning and quality of life

- Lessens the sense of loneliness, rejection, and discrimination
- Fosters independence

- Improves ability to deal with mental illness

- Increases access to resources beyond the VA

- Improves skills necessary to recover
- Improves communication with providers
- Improves employment outcomes
- Provides comfort and support

- Fewer hospitalizations
- Use fewer crisis services

- Improves the effectiveness of the mental health delivery system