Practice 6: Peer Support and Well-Being Ambassadors: Informal and Formal Initiatives
Enroll peers, ombudsmen and ambassadors to increase awareness of and comfort with mental health and suicide prevention resources, improve positive co-worker assistance, and normalize help-seeking and help-giving behavior with an emphasis on least restrictive peer support, collaboration and empowerment. Programs such as employee assistance programs or EAPs can help to provide training and additional support to peers and others in the workplace.
Why is this important and what does this practice entail?
Peers within and outside of work who are aware of distress among their coworkers often feel helpless, frustrated, ill-equipped and overwhelmed when trying to support them. An Advanced Support Network of trained supervisors and peer supporters (or peer specialists) offers an excellent model of a gap-filling intervention. Formal peer support programs usually evolve over many years and take a significant investment in time, money and infrastructure. While this undertaking is being considered or built, less formal strategies can be put in place. Peers can provide a bridge to helping coworkers understand their potential risk and access health and behavioral health services that are often stigmatized or unknown. It is important to provide opportunities for peers and behavioral health professionals to interact regularly and develop rapport and trustful relationship. The more interaction that takes place, the more likely the peers are to make referrals and the better equipped the behavioral health professional will be to understand the workplace culture and develop rapport with the employee who is struggling with suicide or related mental health concerns.
1.Review document and adapt to your workforce: https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/buddy-system.pdf.
2. Establish or build upon a way for workers to connect to a buddy and orient them to the “do’s” and “don’ts” of this document.