Peers of the Mental Health Realm
The last decade has seen a flood of peer counselors in the public mental health system in the U.S., the basic idea modeled, if loosely, on the the practice of recovered addicts becoming counselors in the alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment field. In mental health it has the added gain of making public mental health treatment a more humane and understanding place. Psychiatric survivor activists have long called for this move. If services are provided by counselors who have themselves experienced mental health problems and have been on the receiving end of services, then services will inevitably be rendered in a more sensitive and user-friendly manner.
These things are true as intended, but I feel the need to point out there is also a dark tangled mass of contradictions, uncertainty, and politics that inhabit the practice of peer counseling like a hidden cyst threatening to break open and poison the entire initiative. As always, I find myself the voice of doom and gloom in the fantasy land of Mental Health where fake positivism, false prophets, and general quackery goes hand in hand with unicorns, pixies, and evidence base practices.