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New program will allow young peers to help each other on road to better mental health

Youth and family advisors are also playing an important role in designing new programs and research for the Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health.

They are particularly pleased with plans to embed Peer Support within the new specialized services as a component of patient and family-centred care. Since this will be the first time Alberta Health Services will be introducing Peer Support to the child and adolescent population, the advisors are being consulted on how best to do so.

Research shows that peer support workers can serve as important role models to help patients in their recovery and to navigate the range of community supports available to individuals with chronic mental illness. Peer support has been shown to result in improved outcomes for clients, decreased visits to the emergency department, and increased engagement with primary care support.

The #BuildThemUp campaign is making possible a pilot project which will begin even before the centre opens. In September, in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association, specialists and researchers will be introducing Peer Support within the Emergency Department at Alberta Children’s Hospital. Young people needing care for their mental health concerns will benefit from the new service and will be invited to evaluate its effectiveness. The goal is to incorporate their valuable feedback and other knowledge gained from the pilot into the new Peer Support program for the centre, ensuring that families will receive the best support possible.

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