British Columbians seeking mental health and substance use supports will have better access to quality services with the introduction of consistent, high-quality training resources for peer support workers throughout the province.
To address the lack of peer support training resources as identified by academics, peer support workers and community organizations, the Province provided $1 million in 2019 to BCcampus to lead the work on developing the Provincial Peer Support Worker Training Curriculum and Standards of Practice. The curriculum is available for anyone in B.C. to take or deliver at: https://peerconnectbc.ca/
“Connection and empathy offered by someone who has been through a similar experience is essential for mental health, harm reduction and recovery,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “I am grateful to BCcampus for leading the work in developing this curriculum in a way that includes peer support workers and recognizes lived experience as valuable expertise. Until now, nothing like this has existed. It is bold, and I believe that it will open doors for lived and living experience to reach its potential as one of the most powerful interventions in our system of care.”
Peer support is a critically important part of health care and social services in B.C. By having lived or living experience, peer support workers have a unique ability to understand and relate to the barriers faced by people living with mental health and substance use challenges when navigating the system of care.
Created by peers for peers, the curriculum offers free educational resources that are accessible, evidence-based and consistent with the emerging trends in the field of mental health and addictions. With 16 modules, an employers’ guide and links to complementary resources, the curriculum covers a wide range of topics, including cultural humility, family peer support and substance use.
“Having the lived expertise of peer support workers get the recognition it deserves and stand alongside other health-care worker training will allow peer support workers to be accepted as equal members of the teams they work on,” said Jonathan Orr, project manager, Provincial Peer Support Worker Training Curriculum, BCcampus. “We know that for people that struggle with accessing health-care services, having someone that has shared their struggles meet them where they are at increases the likelihood they will get and stay connected to the services they deserve. Our hope is that this training resource will help bring more folks with lived and living experience to this powerful work.”
Peer supports can be found in every facet of mental health and substance use services, providing valuable care and advocacy to a range of communities and populations. Delivery of peer supports takes place in K-12 schools, correctional centres, post-secondary institutions, family services, overdose prevention sites, hospitals and many other services.
The curriculum is a priority and part of the commitment to address peer support training and resource gaps outlined in A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for creating a seamless comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care that works for everyone.
To learn more about A Pathway to Hope, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BCMentalHealthRoadmap_2019.pdf
Free and low-cost mental health supports for British Columbians during COVID-19: http://www.gov.bc.ca/covid19mentalhealthsupports
A backgrounder follows.