GMIT Mayo is offering a new postgraduate course, the Certificate in Peer Support Practice, aimed at people who have lived experiences of mental and physical health challenges who wish to help others experiencing those challenges.
This one-year, part-time, Level 8 course has been designed in collaboration with the Health Service Executive (HSE). Peer Support work is a new departure in service provision in the State. Courses preparing people to work in this field are currently only offered in GMIT and DCU.
Graduates will work with multidisciplinary teams, supporting professional practitioners working in the areas of disability, neurodiversity, addiction services, physical health (particularly dementia care), and mental health and emotional distress. They will be equipped with skills to work as a professional peer support worker providing non-judgemental, peer-led support to people who are experiencing mental and physical health challenges.
Dr Mark Garavan, Programme Chair, Department of Nursing, Health Sciences and Social Care, GMIT Mayo, says the programme stems from a partnership with the HSE who first approached GMIT about it last year seeking interest in developing this ground-breaking course together.
“The course meets the need to develop systematic education and preparation for professional peer-support practitioners in the statutory and non-statutory sectors and in a number of diverse practice domains.” explains Dr Garavan.
“Our first cohort of 17 students commenced in GMIT before Christmas. All of the students have relevant lived experience which they can now use to help them work with others facing similar challenges. Our course focuses on mental health, addiction, disability and dementia care; so it is open to people with a wide range of direct experiences.”
Gemma McLoughlin, one of the course participants, says: “This course has brought me on an amazing journey of learning and self-discovery, preparing me for working in a multidisciplinary team to help others. The course has made my dream of working in peer support a reality.”
Karen McHale, Peer Educator with the HSE’s Mayo Recovery College, says: “Peer Support is a manner of listening, empathizing, communicating, inspiring hope and demonstrating the prospect of recovery. This course will equip the future peer workforce with the tools that are essential to make a real positive difference along a person’s sometimes challenging life journey.”