Wed, 4 October 2017
A driving force in the emergence of the Recovery movement has been the increasing sense of agency of people with mental illness in their own return to mental health. Peer worker programmes leverage individual experiences of successful recovery from mental illness to provide patients with exemplars to help them find their own paths back to health. The October podcast features Dr Frances Dark, Clinical Director of the Rehabilitation Academic Clinical Unit, Metro South Health, Brisbane, who talks about developing long-stay psychiatric rehabilitation services primarily staffed by peer workers. Dr Dark believes that peer workers should not displace allied health professionals in treating mental illness, but can complement their clinical skills, with powerful roles in promoting engagement, autonomy, and communication. While acknowledging the specific circumstances of peer workers, Dr Dark reports that in practice perceived problems such as the possibility of peer workers becoming mentally unwell are most appropriately handled using the same principles and mechanisms as with other health workers, particularly self-care, work-place flexibility, and professional responsibility.