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Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2019 Apr;28(2):572-581. doi: 10.1111/inm.12562. Epub 2019 Jan 4.

'You don't know what you don't know': The essential role of management exposure, understanding and commitment in peer workforce development.

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School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences, Central Queensland University, Norman Gardens, Qld, Australia.
School of Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Vic., Australia.


The peer workforce has increased significantly in recent years; however, structured development and support for the roles are lacking. This paper explores the role of executive and senior management understanding in the employment of peer roles. In-depth, semi-structured interviews and one focus group were conducted with 29 participants from a range of nongovernment and public mental health services within Queensland, Australia. Findings of this study suggest management exposure to and understanding of peer work are essential to the development of an effective peer workforce. Exposure and understanding of peer roles reportedly led to greater acceptance and commitment from management. This commitment inspired action in the form of; enhanced support including advocacy/championing, increased development of roles and influenced culture within the organization to be more accepting of peer work. There was a perception that developing an 'accepting' organizational culture supported the integrity and expansion of peer roles including designated 'peer management' positions. Development of peer management positions is suggested as an effective means of improving the impact of peer perspectives, advocating for peer work and providing ongoing and timely supervision. Recommendations include the need for training and information for management on the unique function, purpose and value of peer roles; and the development of networks, including mentoring opportunities, for organizations with limited experience to gain support and advice from those with greater experience developing peer roles.


lived experience; mental health reform; peer work; recovery; workplace cultural change

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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