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Embedding peer support in MHAIDS

Published Thursday 31 Aug 2023

There have been some exciting developments in the Peer Support project this month, with new additions to the project team as well as the announcement of the MHAIDS teams selected to progress to pilot peer support staff working as part of clinical teams.

Last month Suzie Baird joined the project group as its sponsor. Suzie is the Director of Lived Experience at MHAIDS, and will be ensuring that this project is equipped with the right intent and support. Suzie will work alongside Victoria Parsons and Chontelle King from the District’s Strategy, Planning, and Performance directorate.  

Peer Support is one of the projects in the Community Mental Health and Addiction workstream of the Mental Health and Addiction Change Programme.    

What is peer support? 

Peer support involves people or groups supporting one another based on shared experiences of mental health and/or addiction challenges and recovery. 

A peer support worker will have experiences of accessing services, managing their recovery, building resilience and hope. Through their lived experience, a peer support worker will work with people who experience mental distress and/or addiction to bring hope and empower others in their recovery. 


A peer support worker might share their own lived experience in a safe way, work with tāngata whaiora to identify their strengths, and support tāngata whaiora goals and aspirations for their recovery. You can learn more about peer support through the Te Pou website.  
How is peer support being embedded into MHAIDS clinical teams?  

As part of the system-wide work to Understand, Strengthen and Grow peer support locally, MHAIDS is working with community NGO partners on a pilot to embed peer support into MHAIDS teams. 

Earlier this year the project team ran an EOI process with clinical teams, to determine their readiness to embed peer support. They were looking for a level of understanding about peer support, experiences of or willingness to partner with community NGO providers, and other factors in creating a safe and healthy work environment, like cultural responsiveness.  

A panel of lived experience, Māori, Pacific, disability, clinical and operational representatives shortlisted four teams for this pilot opportunity: Early Intervention Service, Te Whare o Matairangi,  Tūhonohono and Health Pasifika. 

Early Intervention Service (EIS) supports a younger group of tāngata whaiora, aged 13-25, who are often experiencing mental health distress for the first time. To ensure the right level of peer support is made available within EIS, the team is embarking on a quality project to explore what type of peer support would best suit the whānau and tāngata whaiora engaging there.  

Te Whare o Matairangi already offers peer support in collaboration with Kites Trust and the Buddies programme. The project team is looking to increase funding for Kites Trust via community commissioning, so that their existing partnership can evolve and develop further.  

Tūhonohono and Health Pasifika are partnering with the project team in a process to devolve 2.5 FTE for each setting to community NGO providers. The team has held its first Registration of Interest hui, where interested NGOs came together to hear about the teams and decide who will work with each of them. A talanoa with Health Pasifika will take place on 5 September, and a hui with Tūhonohono on 11 September to determine the next steps to embed peer support into those teams.