Implementing youth peer support in an early psychosis program
The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice
Article publication date: 4 December 2020
Issue publication date: 22 January 2021
The purpose of this study was to identify and understand the barriers and enablers to the implementation of youth peer support in a clinical mental health service. The development of a lived experience workforce in mental health is a key component of policy at both the state and the federal level in Australia. Implementing a peer workforce within existing clinical services, however, can be a challenging task. Furthermore, implementing peer support in a youth mental health setting involves a further degree of complexity, involving a degree of care for young people being invited to provide peer support when they may be still early in their own recovery journey.
This paper reports on a formative evaluation of the beginning stages of implementation of a youth peer workforce within an existing clinical mental health service in Melbourne.
The project found that it was feasible and beneficial to implement youth peer support; however, significant challenges remain, including lack of appropriate training for young people, uncertainty amongst clinical staff about the boundaries of the peer role and the potential for “tokenism” in the face of slow cultural change across the whole service.
Very little evaluation has yet been undertaken into the effectiveness of implementing peer support in youth mental health services. This paper offers an opportunity to investigate where services may need to identify strengths and address difficulties when undertaking future implementation efforts.
The authors would like to thank Rosie Ung for help in preparing the literature review. Thanks are also due to all the staff and students of the headspace Youth and Recovery Team, especially those who generously gave up their time to participate in the research.Study survey data were collected and managed using REDCap electronic data capture tools hosted at Alfred Health . REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) is a secure, web-based application designed to support data capture for research studies, providing (1) an intuitive interface for validated data entry; (2) audit trails for tracking data manipulation and export procedures; (3) automated export procedures for seamless data downloads to common statistical packages; and (4) procedures for importing data from external sources. Paul A. Harris, Robert Taylor, Robert Thielke, Jonathon Payne, Nathaniel Gonzalez, Jose G. Conde, Research electronic data capture (REDCap) – A metadata-driven methodology and workflow process for providing translational research informatics support, J Biomed Inform. 2009 Apr;42 (2):377–81.
Hopkins, L., Pedwell, G., Wilson, K. and Howell-Jay, P. (2021), "Implementing youth peer support in an early psychosis program", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 85-98. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-03-2020-0014
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