Peer worker, support thyself
Helping people is a fantastic way to find meaning and human connection. Peer support facilitators/workers have all benefited from support in their journeys. But what happens when emotional stress overwhelms and peer supporters are pushed to their limits?
Hearing stories of trauma and distress sadness can trigger overwhelming emotions. Giving too much and not having enough time to recharge can lead to “compassion fatigue“, which is especially concerning for peer supporters because their work requires so much empathy.
I have attended informal groups where peer support workers shared stories of their frustration and exhaustion (not confidential stories of group members). Jokes about peer support frustrations really helped.
The Self Help Resource Centre of Ontario has lots of resources for peer support workers:
We offer a peer support group for peer support workers and volunteers. This ongoing monthly Community-of-Practice group is an opportunity for peer support group and one-on-one facilitators to get support from other peer facilitators, share valuable resources and experiences, and brainstorm solutions to challenges in the field.
Remember you need to take care of yourself before you can help someone else.