Peer support among consumers of professional mental health services: Implications for practice, policy, and research

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Peer-support services have become increasingly prevalent in mental health; consumers now deliver many services once provided by professional mental health providers. Recognizing this key asset in mental health consumers' service environment is critical for social workers. This exploratory study examines differences among 311 consumers of professional mental health services, half of whom also used peer-support services. The two groups (peer support compared with non-peer-support) were compared on a number of dimensions related to their utilization of and satisfaction with professional mental health services. Users of peer-support services perceived greater availability of professional services and used more professional services, but found professional services to be less useful than those not participating in peer support. No differences between the two groups were found for overall satisfaction with professional services. Findings related to policy, practice, and research are discussed. © 2006 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment

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