Can peer support for older adults with psychiatric disorders help to mitigate the increases in serious mental health problems for this age group?

Yes, peer support for older adults is proving to be an effective addition to other existing services. Peer support is the process of an individual with personal lived experience of a psychiatric diagnosis and treatment and who has received specialized peer specialist training, supporting another person living a diagnosis in their quest for recovery. The webinar Peer Support for Older Adults explores the problems facing a society with a quickly growing number of older adults living with psychiatric disorders. Increases in longevity for people already living with mental health problems, the rapidly aging ‘baby boomer” generation, increased stressors for older adults brought about by societal changes and the epidemic rise of loneliness all contribute to an increased burden on an already inadequate behavioral health system of care. Older adults have unique needs in terms of wellness, the need for improved health outcomes, and connections to communities of their choice.

Ask your provider if there are peer specialists at your healthcare center available to you.

In the webinar, the role of peer support in mitigating the crisis is examined, as well as a number of promising peer support programs for older adults. When older adult peer specialists are given the opportunity for training in the specific skills of working with other older adults, they represent a powerful asset for improving and even saving lives of their contemporaries.

 

This resource was selected by SMI Adviser content partners and approved by the SMI Adviser clinical expert team for inclusion in the knowledge base.

Peer Support For Older Adults (Mental Health America, 2019)

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