A peer is a person who has had a similar experience to another person or people, such as living with diabetes or mental distress, that has had a significant impact on their life. A peer can be in paid or unpaid employment, and use their experience to benefit others in the work they do. In New Zealand, there are several examples of peer support programmes and initiatives, mostly in the area of mental health.
However, programmes such as the Stanford chronic disease self-management education programme are designed to be led by peer leaders who share their own lived experience with participants as part of the facilitation process. Peer support workers, whether paid or unpaid, usually work within a structured programme and generally receive training and supervision as part of their role.
Peer support programmes and examples
Peer support can range from informal peer networks or buddy systems to formal peer support programmes.
In New Zealand, some examples are shown below – you can read more by visiting the websites.