The History and Effectiveness of Peer Support from 18th-Century France to Today


Yale’s Program for Recovery and Community Health will publish in World Psychiatry’s June issue a review the history of peer support, from its roots in 18th-century France to today. The study reviews peer support’s effectiveness, finding evidence that it can reduce use of emergency rooms & hospitals and substance abuse. The study also finds evidence that peer support can increase subjects’ sense of hope, control, ability to effect changes in their lives, self-care, sense of community belonging, satisfaction, as well as decrease levels of depression and psychosis.

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Note from Kermit Cole, “In the News” Editor:

Thanks to mindfulliberation who helpfully provided a link to the study. Meanwhile, the link from “June issue” goes to a PDF of the the June issue of the journal, provided by John Ellis on a Facebook page.  The issue is full of interesting things, such as “The self and schizophrenia: some open issues,” “The core Gestalt of schizophrenia,” “The placebo response: science versus ethics, and the vulnerability of the patient,” “Positive mental health: is there a cross-cultural definition?” (by G.E. Vaillant), and many more articles on positive psychology. I will look closer at them to see whether some merit posts of their own, but meanwhile thanks again to John Ellis for finding the link to the journal. I had tried to briefly and then moved on.

Davidson, L. Bellamy, C. Guy, K. Miller, R; “Peer Support Among Persons With Severe Mental Illnesses: a Review of Evidence and ExperienceWorld Psychiatry June, 2012; 11(2): 123-8

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].