Developing peer support to better steer patients with mental health issues towards recovery

Developing peer support to better steer patients with mental health issues towards recovery

25 September 2017

At the invitation of Ms Béatrice Latore, President of D’AMORE PSY, the High Commissioner took part in a conference led by Luc Vigneault on 25 September to raise awareness of the benefit of peer health mediators in supporting those with mental health issues. The conference was also attended by medical teams from the Princess Grace Hospital Psychiatry Service, staff from the Psychiatry and Medical Psychology Unit, and many members of the public.

A peer supporter himself, in addition to his role as a mental health speaker and trainer in Quebec, Luc Vigneault has a thorough understanding of his subject, having been monitored for schizophrenia and depression over a long period. He has dedicated his life to explaining to people that mental health issues can be treated: “Through what I say, my aim is to break down prejudices, promote a better understanding of mental health issues, and show that reintegration is possible.”

Peer support involves integrating former psychiatric patients as part of mental health teams, including them as a third party in the doctor–patient relationship. It is about valuing knowledge gained through experience and seeks to reduce therapeutic distance by promoting identification through similarity, a beacon of hope and confidence that it is possible to live and be part of society with a mental illness.

Numerous English-speaking countries have already put this approach into practice, and France is now making similar moves, gradually introducing these patient experts into the hospital setting. The High Commissioner was keen to welcome D’AMORE PSY’s initiative to provoke interest and debate around this innovative concept, and to offer support to the efforts being made to introduce this approach in Monaco.