Friday, 30 April 2021
South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust is launching a new project during Experience of Care week 2021 (26 - 30 April), to employ, train and support people who have lived experience of mental health challenges.
Overseen by the Trust’s Involvement service, these 26 new part time posts, for 17 Peer Engagement Facilitators (PEFs), will build on shared experiences and empathy to collect the stories and experiences of service users currently receiving mental health care.
The feedback we receive will be used to further improve our services for people who access them.
PEFs will be working across more than 15 services, including Deaf services, forensic services, CAMHS, community mental health and perinatal mental health as well as in our adult inpatient wards.
We are hopeful that when the project finishes in Jan 2022 our PEFs will not only have made a difference to our services through the stories and experiences they have gathered, but that they will also have gained the skills, knowledge and experience to take up other roles in the Trust.
Peer Engagement Facilitator, Fiona, said: “ I have lived experience of mental health problems, having experienced post-partum psychosis and depression in 2015 after the birth of my first child. I always wanted to do peer support but felt that my work would mean I was unreliable for a population that need stability, then lockdown hit and the work lessened and I realised that this was a perfect opportunity to offer my help. I’ve been placed in perinatal mental health and am excited about possibly even returning to the places where I was unwell to, perhaps, support others at crisis point. Whilst sometimes, when I was ill, it felt like people who had got through maternal mental illness were speaking to me from the moon, in hindsight, some of that wisdom was integral to my getting better. I’m hopeful that I can provide an empathetic ear and a genuine ability to identify with the women who I will be working with, who, I know from experience, might be in a very dark place.”
Peer Engagement Facilitator, Ninette, said: “Peer Support provided much needed light to my new found purpose to help others once again see how beautiful, bright, and alluring the world can be when you have a positive perspective. A key driver in my applying for the PEF role with SWLSTGs. What magnetised me to the position was that it didn’t come across as the conventional PSW role. There is a strong emphasis on underpinning the stories behind the people we work with. Analysing the negatives and positives and utilising these reports to continually ensure that the service we offer is, in its entirety, person centred.”
The Trust’s Director of Nursing and Quality Standards, Sharon Spain, said, “The voice of our service users drives who we are and everything that we do to improve the quality of care we provide. We actively seek opportunities for people with experience of mental health problems to lead and guide our work. I’m really excited to have Fiona, Ninette and our other peer engagement facilitators on board and joining our team at South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust.”
This project is being supported by Health Education England (HEE) and support’s the Trust’s vision, Making Lives Better Together.