Coordinating health care, including mental health, can feel as complex as trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube—the 3D combination puzzle invented in 1974. However, practical steps can set the stage for aligning all the pieces when managing one’s health.
Here are three of many reasons why peer support in medical settings is a promising alternative for driving and sustaining patients’ positive health outcomes:
- Peer Specialists fuel socialization. We are social beings, and when a patient connects with someone they can relate to, they build a sense of community. Peer specialists support individuals by protecting them from continuous isolation, a major risk factor associated with depression and anxiety.
- Peer Specialists fuel patient engagement. When peers share their life experience with a therapeutic purpose, individuals can gain knowledge and feel supported. Peer Specialists support individuals by adding a unique layer of care through their lived experiences and testament of recovery. The challenges of navigating complex health care systems can feel more manageable when one feels supported and validated.
- Peer Specialists fuel self-mastery. When a simple behavior is set as a goal, there is an opportunity to develop a sense of mastery and a deep sense of accomplishment. For those who struggle with depression, completing a simple task, such as calling to schedule a follow-up appointment with their primary care physician, can ultimately enhance motivation and energy. Peer specialists continuously support individuals in problem-solving together, thus easing their way to self-mastery.
Medical settings use a variety of strategies to connect and engage their patients around health goals. While not formally therapists, peer specialists bring a unique and valuable therapeutic perspective. Like solving a Rubik’s Cube, patient care is complex, requires thoughtful planning, and is multidimensional.