Peer Support Practice in Aotearoa New Zealand
Recovery and peer support: Every District Health Board in Aotearoa New Zealand currently offers some form of peer support, even if in small amounts. This is part of a growing commitment to place ‘recovery’ at the heart of the mental health system. There are two types of recovery in relation to mental illness. The first is recovery in the sense of restoring previous functioning and reducing symptoms. Peer support operates with recovery in its second meaning, which comes out of the civil rights, independent living and mental health consumers’ movements. This understanding of recovery makes the powerful claim that, regardless of the symptoms one may be experiencing, everybody has the right and the possibility of living well. Recovery in this sense is inherently political, and has a multi-layered meaning. It might be seen as a synonym for ‘deep learning’. Recovery doesn’t usually ‘just happen’. The conditions and environment for this form of recovery have to be actively created. This is a role that peer support plays, within the recovery orientated services of the mental health sector as a whole.
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