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Peer Support Program

Peer Support is a program in which people on site are trained to assist workmates affected by stress.
While organisations go to great efforts to ensure the health, well-being and safety of personnel, it's known that stress and mental health issues continue to impact on the workgroup. The nature of the work, demanding rosters and difficult environmental conditions are all factors that can have an impact. However, there may be other causes well beyond the organisation's capacity to directly influence. These include underlying mental health problems, relationship breakdowns and problems with addiction, parenting or family issues.
The reluctance of many workers to seek assistance for such problems has been reduced by organisations putting in place a low-key, Peer Support program to compliment existing services.
Many organisations make use of counselling services and Employee Assistance Programs to assist workers to deal with stress. These initiatives are valuable and often have high success rates for the workers to make use of them. However, it's well known that many workers are unaware of or avoid assistance provided by their employer. A useful, complementary initiative is the use of low-key, collegial assistance, such as Peer Support, to take a more pro-active approach to this problem. Such an approach has three key elements:
  1. The use of personnel within the organisation, who are known and respected by their peers.
  2. An emphasis on the prevention of stress-related problems, with the use of stress awareness raising and short-term, low-key collegial assistance.
  3. Follow-up support, where those affected by stress are given assistance by a work-mate, who provides resource information and encouragement.
The benefits of peer support assistance have been recognised in police and emergency services for decades and have also become established in the resource industries. Peer support programs have also been used in hospitals, corrections, the construction industry and other occupations where there exists the potential for high work demands. Peer support has been found to be a helpful, because it's supportive in the short- term, non-judgmental, non-intrusive and assists the person to gain insight into their reactions, which encourages the individual to seek further help.
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