Title

The Integration of Peer Support Specialists: A Qualitative Study

Department

Social Work

Date of Paper/Work

2015

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper

Advisors

Katharine Hill

Abstract

The integration of Peer Support Specialists (PSS's) into the mental health workplace presents both a challenge and an opportunity. For this qualitative study seven Peer Support Specialists were interviewed regarding their experiences in the workplace with coworkers and supervisors, as well as the strategies they utilized to integrate into their workplace. The transcripts of these interviews were analyzed for common themes. Some participants described successes of being utilized as a resource by colleagues and treated with respect. Many participants also described incidents of stigma and prejudice in their work environment coming from coworkers and supervisors, as well as other unique challenges related to being a Peer Support Professional. The themes identified mostly related to stigma in some form and were analyzed and discussed under the conceptual framework derived from Corrigan's (2005) work on the stigma of mental illness. The implications of this social justice issue for the social work field was explored and discussed, and the qualitative information garnered from this study may be utilized to facilitate the integration of Peer Support Professionals by providing better supervision and encouraging mental health professionals to challenge and speak out against the stigma and prejudice that exists within the mental health field.

Keywords

peer support specialists, mental illness, peers, recovery, cultural competency

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.