A workplace peer support team is a group of volunteers trained to assist and empower colleagues experiencing personal distress to find a path to recovery and mental well-being. Additionally, a peer team can help to promote psychological safety in the workplace and champion employer-led mental health initiatives.
The experts at TELUS Health provide training for new and experienced workplace peer support teams, using a modular approach to support the development of the knowledge, skills and confidence required to be an effective peer.
TELUS Health offers three different learning paths to choose from, depending on the unique needs of your workplace.
This program is designed for employees who have been previously selected by their organization to provide mental health peer support to colleagues. Each module consists of a 3.5 hour instructor-led workshop which can be delivered in person or virtually.
Although best practice is to spread out delivery of the modules in each learning path over a 3-4 week timeframe, the TELUS health team will work with your organization to create a schedule that fits your unique needs.
Learning Path #1 provides peers with the foundational skills needed to respond with empathy to colleagues experiencing personal distress or mental health challenges.
Learning Path #2 is designed for peers who also provide support to colleagues working in “high exposure” roles that are routinely impacted by vicarious trauma.
Learning Path #3 is designed for peers who also provide support to colleagues experiencing distress in the aftermath of a trauma or critical incident.
Module 1: Becoming a Peer
Module 1 explores the role and purpose of a mental health peer support team including appropriate boundaries and limits of the role. Participants are introduced to the Peer Interaction Framework and engage in discussion activities designed to identify the qualities of a supportive peer and the importance of practicing self-care.
Module 2: Understanding Mental Health and Stigma
Module 2 explores the mental health continuum, including factors which influence mental health. Participants learn about workplace strategies that can reduce stigma, while also engaging in discussion activities designed to increase knowledge of professional and organizational resources available for support.
Module 3: Conducting a Peer Interaction
Module 3 explores how the use of empathetic listening, paraphrasing, and open-ended questions can build trust and rapport with colleagues. Participants practice applying the Peer Interaction Framework in small group role play activities, including strategies for conducting follow up interactions.
Module 4: Responding to Challenging Situations
Module 4 explores common challenging situations in which strong emotions may be experienced by the peer and/or their colleague. Participants will have the opportunity to review their organizational procedures for situations requiring immediate escalation, and practice strategies for safely supporting persons in crisis or emergency situations including suicidal ideation.
Module 5: The Cost of Caring
Module 5 explores the physical, emotional, and professional impacts of cumulative stress and vicarious trauma on ‘high exposure’ teams. Participants will discuss common barriers employees on ‘high exposure’ teams may experience seeking help, and practice 5 solution focused strategies that promote self-care and resilience following exposure to vicarious trauma.
Module 6: Responding to Critical Incidents
Module 6 explores the theory and practice of critical incident response including predictable reactions to traumatic events. Participants identify the role and limits of peer support following a critical incident, and practice conducting individual and group defusing techniques using the SAFER-R model of crisis intervention.