Peer Support Week runs 8-14 March. Led by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and Queensland Police Service, the week is an opportunity to say thank you to the many Peer Support Officers (PSOs) who play an important role in improving mental health and wellbeing in workplaces across Queensland.
Use of peer support in response to psychosocial hazards is increasing in Queensland across a range of industries. There are many organisational benefits out of the operation of peer support programs, including risk identification, critical incident management and creating a mentally healthy workplace.
Peers in a support program are trained to recognise changes in others, how to intervene in an unobtrusive way and guide an individual to appropriate support services. Peer support programs:
- help foster workplace engagement
- increase resilience across the workplace
- contribute to a mentally healthy workplace
- encourage proactive help-seeking behaviour.
PSOs volunteer their time, through a formal arrangement with their workplace, to support colleagues who are mentally unwell. For example, someone who has been exposed to a traumatic event or impacted by cumulative exposure to psychosocial hazards may benefit from the program. The officers receive training to ensure they are suitably qualified to provide appropriate support to the workers, including information, and practical or emotional support.
While building a mentally healthy workplace boosts productivity and makes good business sense, controlling psychological health and safety risks is also a legislative requirement. Taking a proactive approach to mental health not only helps to build your reputation as an employer of choice but also a workplace where people enjoy working and are engaged, healthy and productive.
If you’re interested in learning more about peer support programs check out the discussion on early intervention through peer support programs, the webinar on emotionally challenging work and the Mentally Healthy Workplaces Toolkit for tips and resources on early intervention.