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Peer Support Workers Sought for Innovative New Mental Health Project

November 13, 2007 5:24 PM

People in Greater Glasgow and Clyde who have experienced mental illness are being recruited to take part in a ground-breaking new national initiative.
Over the next few weeks, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will play their part in the national pilot by recruiting three to four new Peer Support Workers who will be employed part-time to work across four adult wards in the new Gartnavel Royal Hospital in the west end of Glasgow.
Robert Davidson, Nurse Director, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Mental Health Partnership, said:
 “The Peer Support Workers must have personal experience of mental health ill-health, and be prepared to share their personal recovery or continuing recovery story in the support of others”.
“The initiative recognises the expertise and wisdom which comes from having experienced mental illness and seeks to harness and use it to help other people recover.
“The new Peer Support Workers we hope to recruit will probably be involved in some group work, but it is anticipated that most of their time will be spent with service users on a one-to-one basis.
“Newly admitted patients will be informed that Peer Support Workers are part of the ward team, and there will also be posters and information leaflets promoting their availability.
“The new roles will be challenging but post-holders will be supported by their Peer Support colleagues, the Ward Manager and other members of the ward team.
“We are currently exploring options for additional external support via existing mental health service user networks. As NHS employees, these new workers will also have access to all other forms of organisational employee support ”
Moira Gillespie (46) is chair of the Mental Health Network in Greater Glasgow, a qualified general nurse, and is one of the first people in Europe to be trained as a Peer Support Worker.
She has had a number of episodes of severe clinical depression over the last 30 years and says that she would have welcomed contact with a Peer Support Worker during that time.
Moira said: “The training has given me much more confidence and self awareness and increased my ability to help other people in a more fulfilling way.
“Peer support has been around for many years in an informal way, but the training has taught me that instead of trying to fix things for someone, I now help people to take control of their own lives and make their own decisions, because at the end of the day that is what we all need to do.
“The training also gives you another aspect on life because there is more to a person than mental illness, and it’s important to look at the bigger picture and what we all have in common.”
Anyone interested in becoming a Peer Support Worker or finding out more about this new role should contact Peter McAuley, Area Senior Nurse, Gartnavel Royal Hospital on 0141 211 0329 or email [email protected]
One day introductory training sessions will take place on December 4 and 11 in Glasgow (at the Teachers Building in St Enoch Square) with the main training course being held next year in Edinburgh between January 14-25.
Course modules will include communications skills, self esteem and self talk, and being with people in challenging situations. Other NHS Boards taking part in the national Peer Support Worker initiative are focussing on developing the role of these workers in the community.
Further information and details of how to register for the training courses can be obtained from Peter McAuley on 0141 211 0329.
Ends
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications, 0141 201 4429.

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