Starting out as a Peer Worker on EMPOWER

My name’s Davie and I’ve just started work as a Mental Health Peer Support Worker with the EMPOWER Study.

I’m married with two kids and have worked in social care since 2006. My last psychosis was in 2005 and since then I have had a lot of help and learned different ways of dealing with my condition. I keep fairly good mental health today and feel that although recovery has been a trudge at times overall it has given me a strength that in the early days I didn’t know was possible.

This is a totally new role for me and in a way a disclosure about my mental health. After all it’s in my job title PEER. I have always kept my mental health problems a secret in previous jobs, which, by the way is exhausting! My new employer has employed me perhaps because I’ve got lived experience and I may be able to help others who have had similar experiences.

So far, I’ve been spending time with the team here and getting to know the study and its background.  We’ve been talking a lot about how the app will be used and importantly what role we as Peer Support Workers will play in working with people who are using the App. Will it work? Will it help prevent relapse? Will it detect early warning signs?

I also recently attended a training course on good clinical practice. I learned about ethics in research, consent and how a study is conducted. For me it’s like learning a new language, full of abbreviations, SOP, CRF, AE  – the list seems endless. It’s a lot to take in and if I’m being honest I don’t totally understand it all yet. I’m not giving myself a hard time about it. It will come in time. New jobs are always hard at first and self-doubt can creep in. I’ll just keep on at it, ask questions and seek answers from colleagues. There are no stupid questions after all.

We have also been working on the messages which the app will send to participants after questions have been answered and measured. There is a messages survey available and if anyone would like to give their input into what the messages should say, it would be appreciated and valued.

What I’m really looking forward to is talking to the people using the App when the study starts fully, and finding out what they think about it?

Overall I’ve enjoyed my first few weeks with EMPOWER. At times I have been anxious, but that’s normal. New job, new people and out of my comfort zone. All that stuff is good for me though and I have found that it increases my confidence and always benefits me. That for me is what recovery is about. It’s getting out there and just trying your best.

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