Mental Health Foundation backs peer support scheme in face of criticism

ONE News has learned that at least one of the dozens of peer support workers in communities, clinics and psych wards around the country has killed someone.

The peer role requires “lived experience” in mental health, including people sectioned by the court for taking a life – that is, acquitted of murder by reason of insanity.

Judi Clements from the Mental Health Foundation backs the scheme, saying while bad things may have happened in their lives they may be now working in a different way and be in a very good state.

“We don’t want to run the risk of people actually not having that opportunity,” Ms Clements said.

Robyn Shearer, chief executive of Te Pou National Centre, says peer workers are strictly screened like any other mental health role.

“They come from that perspective around I’ve been there done that and here’s what worked for me,” Ms Shearer says.

ONE News understands it is up to the individual to decide how much detail about the peer support worker’s background is disclosed and the call is made on a case by case basis. This means a person who took a life or committed some other violent crime need not share that information.