From September 2018, DCU School of Nursing and Human Sciences will offer the first Undergraduate Certificate in Peer Support Working in Mental Health in Ireland.
The Irish Mental Health Policy Document ‘A Vision for Change’ (Government of Ireland, 2006) provided the first ever mandate for users of mental health services to be involved at all levels of design, development and delivery of mental health services into the future.
After the successful initial pilot programme, from September 2018, DCU School of Nursing and Human Sciences will expand its offering of a Certificate in Peer Support Working in Mental Health to include eligibility for Family Peer Support workers to avail of the same training. Family Peer Support offers families/friends/supporters of those with lived experience of mental health difficulties an opportunity to receive peer support from someone who also has experience supporting a loved one.
“Families need the opportunity to get support from other families – to learn from the experience of other families who have had to deal with a family member who has faced their own struggles. There is a huge amount to be learned from other families as well as a huge amount of support that people can get – from other families, from that shared experience.” – Dr. David Goldbloom, Chair, Mental Health Commission of Canada ‘Together Against Stigma’, Press Conference, Ottawa, June 2012.
Both peer support workers are recovery-orientated with the focus on inspiring hope for the future and supporting people with self-experience and family members on the recovery journeys.
The inclusion of two types of peer support workers will enable a rich learning environment and experience for students as both cohorts will be learning together, developing new ways of understanding, working together and co-producing, etc.
This one-year programme offers existing peer support workers and family peer support workers an opportunity to develop and enhance their skills and heighten their impact within their role.
The programme also enables organisations to support trainee peer support workers to gain a qualification while working 19 hours a week in a paid or voluntary capacity for the duration of the programme.