Does the Peer Support Role Enhance Veteran Engagement?

Research Paper Title

Military veteran engagement with mental health and well-being services: a qualitative study of the role of the peer support worker.

Background

Many UK military veterans experiencing mental health and well-being difficulties do not engage with support services to get the help they need. Some mental health clinics employ Peer Support Workers (PSWs) to help veteran patients engage, however it is not known how the role influences UK veteran engagement.

Therefore the aim of this research was to gain insight into the role of peer support in UK veteran engagement with mental health and well-being services.

Method

A qualitative study based on 18 semi-structured interviews with veterans, PSWs and mental health clinicians at a specialist veteran mental health and well-being clinic in Scotland.

Results

Four themes of the PSW role as positive first impression, understanding professional friend, helpful and supportive connector, and an open door were identified across all participants. The PSWs’ military connection, social and well-being support and role in providing veterans with an easily accessible route to dis-engage and re-engage with the service over multiple engagement attempts were particularly crucial.

Conclusions

The Peer Support role enhanced veteran engagement in the majority of instances. Study findings mirrored existing peer support literature, provided new evidence in relation to engaging UK veterans, and made recommendations for future veteran research and service provision.

Reference

Weir, B., Cunningham, M., Abraham, L. & Allanson-Oddy, C. (2017) Military veteran engagement with mental health and well-being services: a qualitative study of the role of the peer support worker. Journal of Mental Health. 28(6), pp.647-653.

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