BC Mental Health and Addictions Research Institute
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Patient Engagement Project

Peer Support Program

There is promising evidence that peer support can be beneficial to people with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. In addition to simply offering a sense of belonging, research suggests that mutual support groups for people with mental illness may improve symptoms, promote larger social networks, improve medication adherence, and enhance well-being.

The Concurrent Disorders Peer Support Program at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, which includes a mutual support group, has begun. Facilitated by a peer support worker, the support group is providing patients with the opportunity to openly discuss recovery issues regarding their mental illness and substance use problems with other patients who can relate to their experiences and who can offer support. The peer support worker is also mentoring patients to enable them to organize and lead the support group and is linking patients who are discharged from the hospital to self-help groups in the community.

We aim to make this program a permanent part of FPH that engages and empowers patients by creating a mutually-supportive environment.

For further information, please contact Colleen Calderwood at ccalderwood@forensic.bc.ca.