Youth Peer Support Worker roles

About the Youth Peer Support Program

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Young people who’ve experienced mental health challenges and accessed services have a wealth of personal experience, knowledge and wisdom that can be utilised to support other young people experiencing similar circumstances.

This is called Peer Support, and headspace Edinburgh North are committed to training and supporting young people to be part of our Volunteer Youth Peer Support Workforce: to contribute their valuable skills and experience within our centre, and to provide support to other young people from the perspective of someone who has “been there”.

Youth Peer Support Workers help young people at headspace in lots of ways, including;

  • To feel welcomed and to learn about what’s on offer at headspace
  • Normalising and de-stigmatising having mental health problems and getting some help
  • Sharing your own personal story and experiences with others
  • Answering questions, providing information and resources like fact sheets
  • Supporting young people to get involved in headspace activities, groups and events
  • Providing guidance and helpful suggestions based on the things you’ve learned

Overview of the Youth Peer Support Worker role

The Youth Peer Support Worker role is voluntary. Key functions of the Youth Peer Support Worker Role are to provide support, promote hope and optimism about recovery, to support young people to engage with the service, work with young people to achieve their personal recovery goals and provide advocacy where needed.

As a Youth Peer Support Worker, your role is about working in collaboration with headspace Edinburgh North staff and young people attending our service to help young people achieve their recovery goals.

Youth Peer Support Workers are not clinicians or healthcare professionals. The kind of help you provide to young people should be drawn from your own personal experiences of navigating challenging issues, mental health problems, treatment, recovery, and engaging with services. 

By sharing this lived experience, you remind other young people that they’re not alone, that it’s possible for things to get better, and that it’s ok to ask for help.

Please email swright@northernhealth.net for a Position Description for full details about what the role involves.

Training

We will support Volunteer Youth Peer Support Workers to complete comprehensive training for the role, including being supported to apply for and successfully complete the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work at tafeSA*.

https://www.tafesa.edu.au/xml/course/aw/aw_TP01024.aspx

This qualification involves a study component of 2 face to face study days at tafeSA every 4-5 weeks + 80 hours of work experience at our service over a duration of 10-12 months. To achieve this qualification, we will consider fully or part funding your tafeSA course costs on an individual basis and you will be supported to obtain at least 80 hours of voluntary work as a Youth Peer Support Worker at our headspace service.

The Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work qualification reflects the role of workers who have lived experience of mental illness as either a consumer or carer and who work in mental health services in roles that support consumer peers or carer peers. Workers are employed in the mental health sector in government, public, private or community managed services. The course consists of 8 core units plus 7 elective units.

* please note that acceptance into the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work offered by tafeSA is subject to application to SATAC and acceptance into the course by tafeSA

tafeSA Course Admission Requirements for this program include:

  • Satisfactory demonstration of reading, writing and numeracy skills by undertaking the Core Skills Profile for Adults (CSPA)
  • You must be working in a related industry and provide evidence of this when you enrol.

 Activities and volunteer hours

Peer Support activities will work on a Roster that changes from month to month. We’ll give you notice about what days, times and activities are planned for the Roster and ask you what you’re available for and interested in.

The majority of activities and Peer Support “shifts” will take place during business hours between 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday and shifts lengths will be anywhere from 1 - 6 hours depending on the needs of the young person and Peer Worker availability and the activities planned.

Activities include things like social catch ups, cooking, exercise, hiking, yoga, art, music, sport and some therapy groups.

Supervision team meetings

Monthly supervision team meetings are an opportunity for all Youth Peer Support Workers to come together to reflect on your role, your personal experiences, any issues, difficult situations you’ve faced in the role, achievements and for general debriefing.

Attendance either in person or via phone/videolink at Supervision is a compulsory component of the Youth Peer Support Worker role and you will be required to attend these one hour sessions once per month. You cannot miss more than two in 6 month period.

Who can be a Peer Support Worker?

We’re looking for young people who have their own “lived experience” of mental health challenges and/or other challenges such as drug or alcohol issues, and had treatment or support at headspace or another health service.

To be considered for the position you must;

  • Be aged between 18 – 30 years old
  • Identify as having a “lived experience” of mental health challenges or other challenges (such as addiction, homelessness)
  • Not be a current client of  headspace Edinburgh North or the Northern Health Network
  • Have accessed treatment/support services previously (headspace or other)
  • Be willing to share your lived experience in an appropriate, recovery oriented way
  • Demonstrate active self-care strategies and support plans
  • Be able to identify and share the strategies, resources and other factors that have contributed to your recovery and wellbeing
  • Hold or be eligible to apply for DCSI clearance (working With Children Check)

 Additionally, it is essential that applicants;

  • Be willing and able to openly and appropriately share their lived experience
  • Have some life experience
  • Have an outgoing personality and ability to work within groups of young people
  • Have excellent communication skills
  • Are able to use their own initiative and work autonomously
  • Have basic computer skills
  • Be contactable via email and phone 

Things to consider before applying

Your wellness

The nature of the Youth Peer Support Worker Role is to reflect on your lived experience and to share that with others, and to support other young people who are experiencing the same or similar circumstances.

It is a challenging role that often prompts you to revisit very personal, difficult experiences. With this in mind, we ask applicants to consider the following;

  • Your current mental health and wellbeing and how providing Youth Peer Support may impact your recovery
  • Do you have a good support network, such as services, health care professionals, family, friends etc.?
  • Do you have established, effective self-care strategies and habits?
  • Do you have good insight into your early warning signs, triggers and a plan for how to seek professional support if you need it?
  • Have you had a recent rehabilitation or mental health hospital admission, change of medication or period of being acutely unwell?

Youth Peer Support Workers have a responsibility to request a break from the role should you require time out to take care of yourself and to seek support or treatment. Similarly, we may ask you to take a break from the role should we believe that your mental health and wellbeing is compromised or is fluctuating.

Additionally, you will be required to temporarily step down from providing Peer Support if you become unwell and this is considered likely to affect your capacity to support others.

We foster a culture of “self first” in the Youth Peer Support Program, because recovery is complex we understand that flexibility is required so that individuals can focus on their mental health and wellbeing as a priority.

Your ability to commit

We understand that young people have lots of competing demands. The Volunteer Peer Support Worker role is a casual role and shifts are planned in advance.

Reliability is important. If you say you are available and we assign you shifts, it’s important to show up. Young people will look forward to seeing you and staff will rely on you to lead and help with activities and providing support.

Most shifts and activities happen during business hours so you need to be available weekdays between 9.00am – 5pm. Once per month you will be required to attend Team Supervision.

If you have work, uni, school or other commitments, please consider how you will fit Peer Support in.

FAQ’s

Q: I’m receiving treatment for mental health stuff, can I be a Peer Support Worker?

A: Yes, You can apply to be a Peer Support Worker if you are receiving care from a mental health service or private practitioner. For your own safety and wellbeing, you cannot apply if you are currently receiving support from our headspace service or the Northern Health Network. Additionally, you cannot apply if you have had an inpatient admission within the past 6 months or had a recent crisis intervention. If you have any questions about this, just talk to us.

Q: What happens if I become less well?

A: We understand that recovery is a journey and it’s not always a straight-forward one. If you do become less well whilst undertaking Peer Support work we will ask you to take some time out so that you can focus on yourself. We’ll support you to link in with the mental health professionals or services you’ve nominated or provide referrals if needed.

Q: What if there’s personal stuff I’m not comfortable to talk to other people about?

A: A big part of being a Youth Peer Support Worker is being able to share your personal experiences with other young people. But that doesn’t mean you need to tell them everything, or talk about things that are upsetting, difficult to discuss or very personal. In your training, you’ll be supported to learn how to set up boundaries so that you can be in charge of what you do and don’t want to share.

Q: Where will I be doing the Youth Peer Support work?

A: You’ll be based in the headspace office in Edinburgh North and also work remotely in the north and north eastern regions, however, activities you are involved in with young people can happen all over the place. For example, we might run a meditation group in Salisbury, go on a day trip to the beach, and visit young people out in the community at a location suitable for them. We will usually provide you with transport to these destinations, but for some groups we may request that Peer Workers be able to meet us in local meetings points.

Q: Is this a job?

A: You will be a Volunteer who is also supported to undertake and successfully complete further training. There’s lots of reasons for this but mostly it’s so we can allow lots of flexibility in the role and it’s also easier for us to grow, evolve, change and improve the roles without all the usual red tape. Young people also think it’s awesome that you’re providing them support because you want to, not because it’s your job.

Q: How long can I be a Peer Support Worker for?

A: Peer Support Worker roles are for a period of 12-18 months. In the last 3 months of your role, you will be invited to mentor and support the next round of Peer Support Workers. Peer Workers may re-apply for an additional 12 month position if they have performed satisfactorily and met the role requirements during their first year. Maximum engagement is for a period of 2 years.

Q: Will I be working with staff who were involved in looking after me?

A: It is possible that you’ll cross paths with a worker who provided you with support either at headspace or another service. If you have had some negative experiences with a particular person or don’t feel comfortable about working with someone, please let us know and we’ll try to assign you to different activities.

Q: What previous skills or experience do I need?

A: You don’t need any particular previous Peer Support skills or experience. You do have to have a personal experience of mental health problems or other significant challenges such as addiction or homelessness, you must have received care from either a service or private practitioner and you have to be OK with talking about your experiences. You also need to be a “people person” with good communication skills, you need to be outgoing, sociable, approachable, non-judgemental and willing to support other young people going through a tough time.

Q: What if I start doing Peer Support Work and decide I don’t like it?

A: Sometimes people do the training and decide they’re not ready for Peer Support. Some people start doing Peer Support and decide it’s not for them. We encourage you to talk to us about anything that you’re worried about or feel you can’t manage so that we can perhaps reassure you or support you. But if you decide you don’t want to be a Peer Support Worker, that’s ok.

Q: Can I use this role as work experience or placement for uni or tafe?

A: This is something which we shall consider on an individual basis, and only after such time as a Peer Support Worker has been a volunteer with our organisation for at least 3 months.