Support and Training

As we all know, there is no substitute for being among people who are going through the same things as you are.

In response to the need for peer support, The Mood Disorders Society of Canada has developed a team of people with years of lived experience and management skills and mental health professionals experienced in addressing trauma.

With guidance and advice from the Peer and Trauma Support Systems Team many organizations can meet their needs for Trauma Support, Peer Selection, Training and Development within the workplace.
As part of the development of support systems they can also assist organizations address the building of resilience for trauma and the de-stigmatization of mental illness and also develop techniques for your management of both formal and informal peer groups.

Our advisors can offer your organization two options in how to approach these objectives:

1. They can work with your local professional resources, either internally or externally or both, who can then take the lead,
2. Or they can work as the stand-alone team to help lead your organization.

Also, it is important to note that the Team recognizes that each organization and community has their own dynamics and history, so their approach to working with an organization , though based on a solid foundation of best practices, does include customizing their work to respect the organizational or community needs.

The development of Trauma Support Systems requires step by step work with the organizational Leads, which we offer, then our specific area of expertise leads into the development of peer support services, which involves three basic steps.

1. Selection of Peers using a four step process:

• Identification of peers who agree to participate as nominated by peers
• Peer Interview to validate suitability
• Psychological testing and interview, to ensure that the peer is psychologically ready to help others which is crucial for a meaningful, safe and ethical program. This follow up can be achieved in a respectful safe manner so as not to stigmatize those involved. The purpose is to ensure that the peer is not reactivated when helping another, and that the peer being helped is not further traumatized by someone who has not done his/her work, or is not psychologically minded to be in such a trusted relationship with a vulnerable colleague. (This can either be provided by a local psychologist or the use of our own MDSC Peer and Trauma Support Systems Team Psychologist)
• Meeting the organizational needs, taking into account where they live, where they work and their lived experience.

2. Training of Peers using the Peer and Trauma Support System Team’s –Day Peer Support Training program.

The curriculum that we use was formatted based on the, “Guidelines for the Practice and Training of Peer Support” first published by the Mental Health Commission in February, 2014, and the product of tried and true processes that can be adjusted to meet your organizational needs and has been reviewed and approved by the MDSC Board of Directors and Peer and Trauma Support Systems Advisors.

3. The Development of Formal and Informal Peer Teams.

It is also well known that no one model of peer support will do all that can be required within an organization. Formal groups, with rules and guidelines, can include informal groups that can be built within the formal structure. Both formal group peers and informal group peers follow the same guidelines and rules and are both managed by the formal peer group manager, though it is more unstructured for the informal group. The only difference would be that those peers who are recognized as part of the informal group would be called upon to respond ad hoc, to the needs of a member who is refusing to accept the support of the formal group.

We also provide advice and services in the management of and training in:

4. Developing awareness and resilience to trauma workshops for members and their families

5. De-stigmatization of Mental Illness

6. Family Awareness and Information Events

7. Assisting your organization to effectively assess and address the 13 psychosocial factors to develop comprehensive strategies for ensuring a psychologically safe workplace using the Guarding Minds @ Work tool regardless of how large or small, or whether in the public or private sector.

8. Implementing the Mental Health Commission Standards for Health and Safety within the Workplace.

For any further questions please feel free to contact me.

“Peer support is the foundation piece through which lived experience connects with empathy to those who have been traumatized and gets them to the help they need, medical or psychological, and supports them through the process of healing with reassurance and guidance and once they are strong enough, lets them go without obligation to the support that was offered. No one mental health service product can stand on its own…it all needs to work as one for the benefit of the sufferer.” Syd Gravel.