A day in the life of a peer support worker: re-entry

Publication Date08 August 2016
Date08 August 2016
Pages149-152
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/MHSI-05-2016-0014
AuthorEmma Watson
SubjectHealth & social care,Mental health,Social inclusion
A day in the life of a peer support worker:
re-entry
Emma Watson
Emma Watson is a Peer
Support Worker at Nottingham
NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK.
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to share the experiences and reflections of a peer support worker
over the course of a day working in mental health services.
Design/methodology/approach A narrative approach has been taken to structure reflections based on
the experience of returning to work after taking sick leave.
Findings Reflections are offered based on the process of returning to work and the way that this
experience sheds light on personal recovery.
Originality/value This paper adds to the small number of accounts of the experiences of peer support
working in mental health services and as such is highly original.
Keywords Mental health services, Employment, Sick leave, Peer support, Personal recovery
Paper type Viewpoint
Today is the day I have been simultaneously working toward and dreading for the past few
weeks. I am returning to work. I was signed off by my GP some weeks ago now and the time has
come for me to return. I know it is the right time to go back, I feel ready, and stronger than I have
in years. I have never faced this situation before, in six years I have never taken a day off sick.
Perversely I try and avoid being ill more as a peer support worker because I secretly feel like it will
confirm some unspoken beliefs that people hold about PSWs. Some well-timed annual leave has
normally done the job, but this time round, I found myself needing much more. Yesterday, before
he wished me well and signed my fit note, my GP reminded me that this might be difficult and
stressful but told me not to write it off after one or two difficult days. I have his advice ringing in my
ears, I feel braced for something, but I am not quite sure what.
I have parked my car and am heading toward a team meeting. I remind myself that I am only here
for a few hours today and they will all be spent at the team meeting; no pressure, no surprises. As
I walk toward the meeting room I hear my name being called from behind me. I turn around and
see staff member that I had been working closely with before I was signed off.
Hi Emma!she calls.
And even though weve had countless meetings together and exchanged hundreds of emails,
I cant at this precise moment remember her name.
Hi!I say How are things?
Goodshe says, I didnt know you were back!
First dayI say, Im grading my return so Im just going to do a few hours.
She smiles and says that sounds like a good plan, then she tilts her head to one side, locks eyes
with me, and in a serious tone says [] and how are you?
Im OK, I say, feeling loads better, just hope I can remember how to be at work!
DOI 10.1108/MHSI-05-2016-0014 VOL. 20 NO. 3 2016, pp. 149-152, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 2042-8308
j
MENTALHEALTH AND SOCIAL INCLUSION
j
PAG E 14 9

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