Peer to peer chat for adults
Also as depicted in Figure 1, it is important to note the ways in which conventional clinical and rehabilitative practices in mental health may—but also may not—differ from those delivered by peers.At the far left of the continuum are not only asymmetrical relationships but also relationships that are entered into intentionally—as opposed to occurring naturally—and that evolve in clinical or other formal service settings—as opposed to taking place in the broader community.In addition to political advocacy, the origins of this movement were in the established tradition of self-help and mutual support, a tradition that permeates American culture and has been studied extensively over the previous 25 years.6–12 Both the political successes of this movement and the rapid proliferation of self-help and mutual support groups deriving from this movement showed that people who had been diagnosed with serious mental illnesses could still play active and influential roles in their own lives, in society at large, and, finally, in the life of their peers.It was this final lesson from the consumer/survivor movement that led to the development of that form of peer support with which we are concerned in this article.Peer support is based on the belief that people who have faced, endured, and overcome adversity can offer useful support, encouragement, hope, and perhaps mentorship to others facing similar situations.
In its contemporary manifestation, this movement began in the mid 1970s as ex-patients began to gather around the country and lobby collectively for reforms in mental health care and against the discrimination associated with mental illness that they had experienced.
Much ground lies between psychotherapy and friendship, however.
We distinguish among the various activities that lie along this continuum based on who participates in them, how the people who participate identify themselves and their roles, and the locations where they are to be found, as well as on the nature of the relationship itself.
Not the least of these complications is the fact that defining someone as a “peer”—which in this case means identifying someone as having a personal history of serious mental illness—tells us little about the person except for this 1 facet of his or her prior experience.
As the idea of peer support has spread, in fact, it has become almost as common to encounter mental health professionals disclosing their own histories of mental illness as it has been to find people with histories of mental illness becoming providers of care.