Skilled peer workers are known to be an integral part of the treatment of various mental disorders. As such, their services qualify for funding under the NDIS, which recognises peer workers to be a type of Disability Support Worker. That means that peer workers are able to deliver a host of supports to NDIS participants.
When peer workers provide assistance, they do so based on shared experience, meaning they have struggled—or know someone who has struggled—with the same kind of issues that their client is struggling with. The concept of shared experience is extremely important for people living with disability, as it fosters an environment of trust, respect, empathy, understanding, and deep personal connection.
Peer workers function as one component of a broad treatment plan, and are especially helpful in the context of behavior and mental disorders. Typically they work for organisations or institutions dedicated to assisting people with such disorders. Depending on circumstances, they might assume the role of mentor, teacher, or coach.
Because they have personal experience with the disorders they are helping to treat, peer workers are able to deliver supports in a way that is uniquely intimate and holistic. Peer support is particularly effective in getting people to actively participate in their own treatment process. This leads to better self-management, which in turn helps participants to build capacity and independence.
Peer workers are a great complement to other care providers. For instance, they can help them to better understand what clients are going through. This enables care providers to view things from the point of view of the client, which helps make treatment more effective.