Nottinghamshire Healthcare’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are leading the way by introducing permanent peer support worker roles within their services.
Four peer support workers are now employed across CAMHS, based in the Community Teams and Crisis Team. Three of the four workers have experience of mental health difficulties and services, and one is a parent who has supported their child to use CAMHS, enabling them to reach out to and support not only young people but also their families.
Peer support workers have lived experience of mental health problems and recovery, and are therefore able to offer essential emotional and practical support to people experiencing similar challenges whilst building hope inspiring relationships. Within CAMHS they will play an important role in making mental health support more visible and easily accessible for children, young people and their families. They will also actively help young people to access the right support at the right time, while also involving them in service delivery and improvements.
The Trust has supported the peer support worker role within its services for many years. However, whilst there have been voluntary CAMHS peer support worker roles previously in the Trust, this is the first time peer support workers have been recruited into CAMHS on a permanent basis.
Emma Watson, Peer Support Development Lead, said: “The CAMHS peer support workers have already started to make a positive impact. They are building connections with young people and families and helping to support at different sessions within CAMHS, such as anxiety groups. This has been recognised by the young people, who are showing an interest in their role and feel able to approach them for support.
“We are confident that the role of the peer support worker will be successful and make a real difference to the lives of young people and their families. We will continue to evaluate their effectiveness and use this to further develop the role within CAMHS.”
Joy Biddell, one of the new CAMHS peer support workers, said: “I feel so proud, grateful and privileged to have been given the opportunity to do this pioneering role. My own personal experiences of mental health have given me a deeper understanding and empathy, which I will use to support others with the difficulties they may face and to inspire them that recovery is possible.”
The peer support workers have each undergone a thorough programme of training following a competitive interview process.