What are Peer Mentors and Educators and what do they do?

A Peer Mentor and Educator is a person, stable in their own recovery, who uses their lived experience of alcohol and other drugs, plus skills learned in formal training, to deliver services in support of others’ change processes and recovery.

Peer Mentor and Educators provide non-clinical assistance; they share their personal experiences in a way that inspires hope and role models recovery. They are complementary to and work collaboratively with multi-disciplinary teams to provide support in line with organisational frameworks.

At the Day Programs, the Peer Mentor and Educator, works as part of a team towards the delivery of a high quality service. They:

  • Deliver psychoeducational content from a lived experience view
  • Provide emotional and practical support
  • Assist participants to navigate the journey ahead
  • Offer support as an equal, within a defined role
  • Share their personal experiences in a way that inspires hope
  • Promote self-advocacy and empowerment
  • Support expansion of social and community supports
  • Understand, because they’ve been there

Since January 2016, a SHARC Peer Mentor and Educator has been working with participants once a week at the AOD Day Program delivered by Latrobe Community Health Service and Windana Drug & Alcohol Recovery.

The Latrobe AOD Day Program is a structured, six-week, non-residential rehabilitation program operating four days a week. Interventions are provided using a variety of individual and group based approaches to facilitate change, improve mental health, recovery and wellbeing.

 

About Our Peer Mentors and Educators

Our Peer Mentors and Educators are professionally qualified and trained in the AOD Peer Work discipline. Many have obtained a certificate or diploma in AOD or like domains. They have completed SHARC Peer Worker Training, Intentional Peer Support Core Training, and continue to participate in the AOD Peer Workforce Community of Practice.

Our Peer Mentors and Educators deliver the SHARC Peer Modules – content which is designed to educate and practically assist individuals who are impacted by drug and alcohol issues. The SHARC Peer Modules have been co-designed by consumers, clinicians and peer workers and they are delivered through the lens of lived experience.

‘That the facilitator was a peer worker having lived experience and made it easier to relate and respect the content’ – Participant, Day Program

One of our Peer Mentors, Jimmy, has been working with Day Program participants for over a year. He has had overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants:

‘I enjoyed that Jimmy would talk from experience, he knows what it’s like to be an addict.’ – Participant, Day Program

 ‘Jimmy is a very inspiring, honest and is able to get us to see our addiction seriously in a fun and informative manner.’ – Participant, Day Program

Jimmy has appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald for his work at SHARC as a Peer Mentor. See the article here

Participant Feedback

After each 6 week cycle, participants are asked to do a self-complete questionnaire about their work with the Peer Mentor & Educator.

When asked ‘What was your favourite aspect? What did you enjoy the most?’, responses included:

  • ‘Engaging and being heard, understood and appreciated.’
  • ‘Loved the comfortable way we shared with (Peer Mentor).’
  • ‘(Peer Mentor’s) insight, open and very inspiring.’
  • ‘How things were put across for our understanding.’
  • ‘(Peer Mentor’s) life experience and how he has beaten it!!’
  • ‘Being able to relate to (Peer Mentor) and how he presents it.’

There have been numerous responses in the evaluations that asked for more days with the Peer Mentors and ‘More facilitators with lived experience’. The majority of participants claimed that their least favourite aspect was that it wasn’t on more often.

 

Considering having a Peer Mentor as part of your Day Program? Contact Peer Projects at SHARC at peersupport@sharc.org.au.