This training program has been developed in consultation with the subject experts: Consumer/Survivor Initiatives and Peer Support Organizations across Ontario. Its focus is on strengthening and nurturing what is at the core of peer support.
OPDI defines peer support as follows:
Peer Support is a naturally occurring, mutually beneficial support process, where people who share a common experience meet as equals, sharing skills, strengths and hope; learning from each other how to cope, thrive and flourish.
Formalized Peer Support begins when persons with lived experience who have received specialized training, assume unique, designated roles within the mental health system, to support an individual’s expressed wishes.
Specialized Peer Support training is Peer developed, delivered and endorsed by Consumer/Survivor Initiatives*, Peer Support Organizations* and Patient Councils, and is rooted in principles of recovery, hope and individual empowerment.
* Consumer Survivor Initiatives and Peer Support Organizations are community-based, self-help organizations run by and for consumer/survivors.
Note: This definition of peer support was developed through the focus group/workshop/piloting process of creating the OPDI Peer Support Core Essentials™ Program. A draft was workshopped in a member consultation in 2010, further refined by a member working group, then adopted by electronic vote of the membership. We welcome and encourage you to use or reference this definition or provide links to this page, providing that OPDI is credited and the definition is provided unedited and in its entirety.
For over 20 years, people and communities have benefited by becoming involved with our member groups to experience peer support in a variety of ways:
Through personal interaction with others who have ‘been there, done that’ when they gather in our members’ drop-ins, resource centres, or social/recreational programs.
Peer support at this level, as described in the first paragraph of our definition, is much like any healthy friendship.
Where staff or volunteers connect with peers by phone, facilitate diagnosis-specific or issue-driven support groups, or organize “buddy matching” or “mentoring” relationships.
Several member groups contract out peer workers to other local health services OPDI, through the above definition, posits that support at this level requires workers with a solid basic training, and accountability to a reputable peer support program.
By Training Members
Whether training is developed internally, or through engagement of trainers from various recognized training providers. A few train peer workers for other programs in their communities.
Some of OPDI’s members offer trainings of their own creation locally, or bring in other franchise training programs. Please see “Our Members” pages where those with training programs may have descriptions of their offerings, or call the member nearest you to find out what may be available.
It is the position of OPDI and its membership that peer support training should be created and taught by peers, to peers (people who themselves have, or have had, a mental health issue) and that programs organizing training should use only trainers who are authorized by the training institutes.