Peer counselors, or ‘experts through lived experience’ can be very beneficial in the recovery and rehabilitation phase of mental illness. Having access to someone who has quite literally ‘been there’ is invaluable, so much so that healthcare providers across the world are gradually waking up to their usefulness and placing them in key patient-focused positions.
Elaine Yau, writing in the South China Morning Post explores the role of the peer counsellor in Hong Kong, showcasing the work of Lily Chan Lei-hung, a woman living with bipolar disorder. Yau writes:
“Lily Chan Lei-hung has had more than enough ups and downs for a lifetime. She’s has gone from working as a business development manager for a publicly listed American company, to being an unemployed divorcee battling bipolar disorder. Chan certainly knows how mental illness can destroy your life.
But she never thought that her mental illness, which at one point drove her to the edge of suicide, would also paradoxically give her a lifeline. Chan, 46, is the first person with a mental disorder employed by the Hospital Authority to work as a full-time counsellor. The peer specialist scheme was launched two years ago at Castle Peak Hospital as a way to boost the recovery and rehabilitation of mental patients”.
You can read the entire article here.