Peer workers are an increasingly important part of the mental health workforce due to growing demands within the sector and a shifting trend in providing person-centred peer support and care to individuals.
In a new collaborative project for the NTSSS, Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (QAMH), Queensland Lived Experience Workforce Network (QLEWN) and TAFE Queensland have joined forces to support 25-30 students to complete a Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work.
Peer workers are a relatively new and evolving workforce in Australia. Through the course of the project dedicated peer mentoring leadership will be provided to students from project officers who have lived experience of mental health and in navigating the sector.
Students will be guided to successfully compete the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work course with individual and group support, and to find meaningful placement opportunities.
Why are Peer Workers important to the Sector?
The partnership project responds to survey findings conducted by QLEWN, Brisbane North Peer Participation in Mental Health Services Network and QAMH with 70 peer workers and 19 organisations in 2021.
The survey found while only 29 per cent of workers held a Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work, many felt overwhelmed and under-supported to complete their study, with barriers experienced to finding a meaningful placement to carry out mandatory placement hours.
Eighty-three per cent of employers felt training and professional development opportunities available were not sufficient to support peer workers in their role.
Addressing Growth and Need
The Peer Work Student Mentoring Project addresses an emerging industry need and role for peer workers in the disability, community services and mental health sector, as evidenced in the report, where 53% of employers anticipated an increase in the number of designated peer worker roles in the next 12 months.
The reports highlights the challenges facing the mental health system and recognises that peer workers are an important part of the mental health workforce with the role’s core value and competency stemming from lived/living experience of mental illness or supporting someone with mental illness.