The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has partnered with two consortiums, located in Sydney and Townsville, to conduct a 12 month pilot program to train ex-serving Australian Defence Force members as volunteer Peer Mentors to help their Peers suffering from a mental health condition.
Evidence shows that individuals experiencing mental health challenges who are well-supported have a sense of control in their health management, can envisage a path to wellness, and are more likely to complete the recovery process.
This recovery path can be aided by complementary support from peers, with whom the ex-service member can identify as having experienced military service and made an effective recovery from similar challenges.
The Townsville-based pilot program is being delivered by Mental Illness Fellowship North Queensland in alliance with Mates 4 Mates and Supported Options in Lifestyle and Access Services (SOLAS). RSL DefenceCare in alliance with St John of God Richmond Hospital is delivering the pilot program in Sydney.
The pilot programs will conclude in 2017 and be independently evaluated.
About the Peer to Peer Support Network Program?
The Peer to Peer Support Network Program will facilitate recovery of ex-service members with a mental health condition through linking them with a trained volunteer Peer Mentor and supporting that relationship. The volunteer Peer Mentor, from the ex-service community, will have experienced a mental health condition and recovered sufficiently to provide insight and support to a peer.
The program will match ex-serving members as mentors and peers in a 3 month (minimum) 1 on 1 peer mentoring relationship. It is envisaged five to six face to face visits will take place over the three month period.
Peer Mentors will be fully supported throughout the program.
Who is eligible to be a Peer Mentor?
Ex-serving members may volunteer as a Peer Mentor.
The volunteer Peer Mentors will have experienced a mental health condition and be recovered sufficiently to provide insight and support to Peers who are on their own recovery journey.
Confirmation of selection as a Peer Mentor will occur after completion of, and appropriate participation in the three day training course.
How will Peers be matched with Peer Mentors?
The matching process is a key ingredient of a successful Peer to Peer Support Network Program. Matching is not only about having a Peer Mentor with a lived experience of mental illness and relevant military background, it is also about developing mutual trust and respect between the Peer Mentor and the Peer requiring support.
When will Peer Mentor Workshops be held?
The next Peer Mentor workshop is being held in Wagga Wagga NSW from the 15th to the 17th February 2017.
How to get involved?
If you are interested in taking part as a Peer Mentor or a Peer and would like further information on how to become involved, please contact RSL DefenceCare on (02) 8088 0388 (Sydney) or Mental Illness Fellowship on (07) 4725 3664 (Townsville).