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Tuesday, October 9 • 4:35pm - 4:55pm
Symposium 21, Talk 1. "What Makes a 'Peer'? Deconstructing Young People's Perceptions of Shared Experiences & Identities to Inform Peer Support in Early Intervention"

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Sascha DuBrul1; 1New York State Psychiatric Institute, NY, NY, USA
Purpose:  In both the peer support literature and in practice, it is generally assumed that shared experience of specific diagnoses, mental health challenges and/or treatment are the primary basis for a shared "peer" identity and that these shared experiences in turn serve as primary drivers of the effectiveness of peer support.  The goal of the service user led project described in this presentation was to investigate the extent to which both young adult service users and peer specialists working in early intervention (EI) settings in fact center shared mental health experiences versus other potentially salient aspects of shared identity including age, shared interests, background adversity, race/ethnicity and sexual orientation or gender identity.  Methods:  We conducted a mixed methods research project including a survey (n = 50) and interviews (n = 15) with both young adult current/former service users and peer specialists working in EI.  Results: Our data suggest that there are a wide range of views on the perceived subjective importance of shared treatment or diagnostic experiences among young adults, with some interview participants expressing strong disidentification with their diagnoses or identities as a "service user" and a preference for relationships and mutual support premised on other (non mental health related) categories.  Conclusion:  We will discuss implications of our findings including the potential for mutual support interventions that foreground shared experiences, identities and/or interests unrelated to diagnosis, symptoms or treatment and propose next steps vis-a-vis both service development and research.


Tuesday October 9, 2018 4:35pm - 4:55pm EDT
American Ballroom-South Westin Copley Place, fourth floor