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What Is Peer Support All About?

“Peer support is about connecting with someone in a way that contributes to both people learning and growing. It’s about giving and receiving.

This might not sound like a big deal, but for many people relationships have become all about getting: telling your problem story then getting help with it. There is little, if any, emphasis placed on giving back. That’s a big deal!

Service relationships are like a one-way street and both people’s roles are clearly defined. But in ‘regular’ relationships in your community, people give and take all the time. No one is permanently on the taking side or the giving side. This exchange contributes to people feeling ok about being vulnerable (needing help) as well as confident about what they’re offering.

For many of us, being in the role of ‘getter’ all the time has shaken our confidence, making us feel like we have nothing worthwhile to contribute. Peer support breaks that all down.

It gets complicated when one of us is paid, but modeling this kind of relationship, in which both of us learn, offers us the real practice we need in order to feel like regular community members as opposed to an “integrated mental patient.”

Peer support is NOT about:

  • being a paid friend
  • taking care of someone
  • treatment provision
  • based on psychiatric models or diagnosis.

Peer support IS about:

  • creating community type relationships rather than service type relationships
  • a new way of looking at life, of thinking and of behaving
  • feeling like a ‘regular’ community member as opposed to an ‘integrated mental patient’
  • building stronger, healthy communities.

(Abridged from the Intentional Peer Support Manual 2010 by Shery Mead)


jigsaw Peer Support

Our peer support is a one to one service for individuals who would like to further their own wellness by connecting with a peer support worker to engage in goal setting, social skills and community linking.

Peer support does not replace the work of a professional counselor or therapist or mental health support worker. However, it is a useful tool in helping to work through feelings and issues when they arise.

We offer you a forum in which you can express feelings and emotions openly, and can help you to take some action when needed. There is an intention to purposefully communicate in ways that help both people step outside their current story.

Peer support is not about doing to, doing for or doing with a person. Peer support is about being with a person. It’s not about someone just listening to your problems and then providing you with solutions. It’s about a change in how you see yourself.

We encourage one another to re-evaluate how we’ve come to know what we know and how we’ve made sense of our experiences.

Call us to find out more: 09 837 5240


Further reading

Peer Support: A Systemic Approach, Shery Mead, Cheryl MacNeil

Peer Support: What Makes It Unique?, Shery Mead, Cheryl MacNeil

Crisis and Connection, Shery Mead, David Hilton

Rights, Research and Liberation, Shery Mead

Peer Support: A Theoretical Perspective, Shery Mead

Defining Peer Support, Shery Mead

Discovering the Fidelity Standards of Peer Support in an Ethnographic Evaluation, Cheryl MacNeil, Shery Mead

What Recovery Means To Us, Shery Mead, Mary Ellen Copeland