Peer Support Word Cloud – Generated by Grads & Guests from the Class of 2013-14

Hi all,

Happy New Year!

My resolution is to update this blog more frequently and, to start things, off, I’d like to share with you the Word Cloud that was generated by Grads and Guests of our Peer Support Training Class of 2013-14. They had their big celebration in the fall and at it, folks were asked to list words that resonated for them when they thought of peer support. The image below is what they came up with. Enjoy!

PSW Word Cloud 2013-14 vers3


World Suicide Prevention Day Twit Chat, Sept. 10 at 5 pm PST

World Suicide Prevention Day: One World Connected

Wednesday, September 10 at 5pm Pacific time join a special #mhsm tweetchat on self-management and resiliency for suicide prevention in bipolar disorder.

Hosted by Sandra Kiume Dawson of @unsuicide and PsychCentral, a suicide attempt survivor living well with bipolar, in collaboration with participating clinicians, peer researchers, and academics from UBC’s CREST_BD bipolar disorders research group.

All are welcome. A Twitter account is required. To learn how to participate in a tweetchat visit

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Peer Support Workers Wanted, Strathcona Mental Health Team, Vancouver

PSWs Wanted Strathcona


Announcing the Hearing Voices Network Study Club

Hi all,

Just wanted to let you know about the Hearing Voices Network Study Club. Details are in the flyer below. This group is open to everyone. Cheers 🙂

Study Club Flyer

Peer Support Worker Wanted, South Mental Health Team, Vancouver


CLOSING: June 13, 2014

ONE Contract with South Mental Health & Addictions Services, #220 (West Wing) – 1200 W. 73rd Avenue
~ 40 hours per month, 1 year contract

Job Description: Under the supervision of the Rehabilitation Supervisor or delegate, and in conjunction with treatment personnel, you will work with clients with mental illness with the objective of assisting them to achieve their stated goals. The successful candidate will be a well-organized individual who exhibits initiative, flexibility, sound judgment and good interpersonal skills. Duties include one-to-one work assisting clients in achieving goal(s), acquiring new skills or linking with community resources; communicating all relevant information verbally and in writing to pertinent staff; and attending monthly peer support worker meetings, at the team and centrally.

Qualifications: The successful individual will:
1. have completed a Peer Support Training program or have equivalent training or experience
2. have personal experience receiving services within the mental health system (required)
3. be able to be a role model to people recovering from a serious mental illness by sharing common life experiences and practical information
4. have effective strategies for dealing with stress
5. be able to work cooperatively with mental health staff, consumers and family members
6. be able to work with a culturally diverse population
7. be able to adequately access public transportation and support others with taking transit
8. be comfortable assisting with goals related to physical activity, such a going to the gym
9. be able to present in a professional manner,
10. be empathetic, patient and supportive, and
11. have knowledge of community resources and be comfortable searching for information regarding resources online and over the phone

Duration of this Placement: 1 year with possibility of renewal
You are not required to work at the team or unit where you receive service.
Pay and Hours: $12.00 an hour, up to 40 hours maximum a month (including meetings).
Start Date: July 2014

Closing Date and Location: Please submit a resume and a cover letter to via email/fax/mail:
Katie Maher, Rehabilitation Supervisor
South Mental Health & Addictions Services, #220 (West Wing) – 1200 W. 73rd Avenue,
Vancouver, B.C. V6P 6G5
Phone: 604-269-2731
Fax: 604-266-7134

No later than : June 13, 2014

Only those short listed will be contacted.

Wellness and Mental Health with Regina Casey and Sue MacDonald

Regina Casey and Sue MacDonald talk about wellness and mental health in the video below.

Greetings from the first Canadian National Conference on Peer Support

Hello all,PSW Conference Image

I’ve attended the first two days of the National Conference on Peer Support organized by Peer Support Accreditation and Certification Canada and am looking forward to day three tomorrow.  I’ve been tweeting away about it but wanted to share my experiences on this page also since it feels like such a wonderful privilege to be here.

The keynote address on the first day was delivered by Patricia Deegan, a woman diagnosed with schizophrenia who went on to get a doctorate degree in psychology. She’s written a lot about recovery and I have been a fan for years. This was the first time I got to see her in person.

Her keynote address was called “Peer Staff: Disruptive Innovators”. I won’t attempt to summarize the entire talk, but one of the ways in which she said peer supporters are disruptive to traditional mental health cultures is by blurring the boundaries between health and sickness. Traditionally, in mental health, people saw the well treating the unwell. Peer Supporters challenge these silos and drive home the reality that everyone is really on a continuum.

After the keynote speech I went to a breakout talk that Deegan was delivering titled “Navigating the Dignity of Risk and the Duty to Care”. She talked about the challenge presented when a system that believes in choice and self-determination is confronted with someone making a choice that seems unwise. She gave a detailed example of a person on olanzapine with diabetes who persisted in drinking two litres of sugary Mountain Dew every day despite his team’s efforts to encourage healthier practices.

She talked about two extreme ends of a continuum that service provider responses can fall on. At one end is over protection. In this example, the team could respond by taking charge of the man’s money so that it would be harder for him to buy Mountain Dew. At the other end of the continuum is neglect. In this example, the team could say “Drinking the Mountain Dew is his choice. Let him live with the consequences.”

Deegan says that recovery oriented practice lies somewhere between the neglect and over-protect extremes of the continuum. She said the concepts that help us navigate the continuum are:

1. Duty to Care – we must remain engaged with people no matter what decisions they are making. We don’t walk away and say “Oh well, his choice”. We continue to explore the issue, offer options, talk about pros and cons, educate – do whatever we need to do to stay engaged. Also, we need to document it all so that we are comfortable with risk.

2. Dignity of Risk – this concept comes out of the broader disability rights movement. Deegan talked about how once you have a diagnosis, there is often a medicalization of your entire life and a sense that others need to protect and make choices for you. She noted that people without a diagnosis get to make poor choices and that overprotection stifles growth. It stifles the discovery of limits and potentiality. It’s a kind of toxic help that hurts in the long run.

Choices that seem unwise are hard to deal with but the Duty to Care and Dignity of Risk concepts are tools that can help us avoid extreme responses and be recovery oriented.

Those are some of the things I’ve found interesting at this conference. There have been many other things also but it’s 12:06 Halifax time and I’m thinking I better get to bed soon. There’s a keynote address by Romeo Dallaire at 9:00 am tomorrow which is 5:00 am Vancouver time. Pretty early morning! But I don’t want to miss it. One of the Peer Support Workers from Vancouver who has also come to the conference has been telling me all about how amazing Dallaire is so I want to be there when he speaks.

Good night all!

Renea Mohammed