Comments by Ellen Dayan

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  • Thank you, again.

    What I’m trying to do is help researchers see peer support and wellness from our perspective. We should be defining wellness. We should be informing researchers, helping to guide that work, and stepping into research leadership.
    When I say that we need to define peer support better, I’m not talking about standardizing the conversations we have. I have no desire to overstep boundaries of privacy, or to apply some sort of tourniquet to our evolution.
    You and I are are actually standing very close to each other in meaning.
    I’d like to overcome defensiveness among ourselves and against research so we can create more opportunities for peer support based on evidence–our own.

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  • Thank you for reading my article on peer support research. I hope the outcomes I’m interested in weren’t missed…

    “Even so, good RCTs on peer support have shown increased social support, self-efficacy, and quality of life, overall empowerment, self-esteem, self-advocacy, and assertiveness, and that peer-delivered self-management intervention reduces readmissions to acute care. RCTs have also shown that peer support outcomes include increases in hope, self-care, and a sense of well-being.”

    And hopefully my description of peer support makes enough room for a wide variety of things that can happen in effective peer support…

    “Peer support is a power-balanced relationship characterized by mutuality, personal lived experience of mental illness, and a focus on what’s strong rather than what’s wrong. Peer supporters share information, feelings, and thoughts that engender hope. Using skills learned in peer support training, they help others build self-confidence, assume more control and responsibility for their lives, find meaning and purpose in life despite symptoms, and establish valuable roles for themselves in their communities, among many other things.”

    I do apologize if the term “mental illness” offends. It’s a term I’m comfortable using when I talk about my own experiences, but I understand it may not sit well with others.

    I’m very concerned that our unwillingness to describe and define what can happen in peer support will make it impossible for researchers to show positive outcomes. That may seem like a distant concern, but funding follows research. Jobs follow funding. Jobs for Peer Support Specialists are extremely important and I don’t want to see them disappear.

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  • Thank you, AnnaB. Your story is exactly what I’m talking about. I really appreciate your example.
    I did want to encourage you to look at the full text of the article using the link. That conclusion section is what the article offers, and nothing more.
    This meta-analysis provides none of the statistics required to support the conclusion.

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  • Yes, I realize that what you’re describing is something many of us can relate to. When I was beginning to lead peer support groups in an outpatient mental health clinic, I had a heck of a time trying to convince the administration that posting a guard in uniform at the conference room door was going to send the wrong message. It’s uphill, I know.

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  • Thank you for sharing this story about your experience as a Peer Supporter! I appreciate the thoughts and questions you’re wrestling with. I know that serving as a Peer Supporter in a traditional mental health service environment feels pretty awkward at times, to say the least. I’d love to know how you’ve been able to work those things out, or how you haven’t. Your story is really important. Thanks again for reading and responding.

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  • I’ve recently written about research on peer support, and this is one of the most frustrating issues we’re dealing with right now. Funding and policy related to peer support in mental health is really at a crossroads. Research articles are calling peer support into question because “clients” are still having symptoms of mental illness and still using mental health services. This part of your message, “…it’s possible to have high levels of meaning, well-being, satisfaction, and fulfillment while having a mental health condition” is exactly the concept we’re struggling to untangle for decision-makers. This article gave me new insight and language for discussion. Many thanks.

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