It has now been 5 months since our last update was sent to all of you. Despite our relative silence, the organisation continues to make good progress and we are pleased to report our accomplishments.
Our First Conference Dedicated to Peer Support
I would like to first draw everyone’s attention to the National Conference on Peer Support (NCPS) that PSAC Canada (PSACC) is in the process of organizing. The dates are set as 30 April to 2 May 2014 and we have signed a contract with the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront hotel. This conference will be totally dedicated to Peer Support and we hope to see many of you attend.
We recognise the fact that for some peer supporters, conferences such as these may be difficult to attend and as such we are working hard with several interested parties to secure funding to support as many front line peer supporters as we can to attend. Please mark the dates on your calendars and follow the conference planning on our NCPS website www.psac-canada.com/ncps.
We encourage you to spread the word about this conference. Individuals interested in staying informed can enter their email on this website. We also encourage submissions of presentation topics. See the NCPS web site for additional information on abstract submissions.
PSAC Canada Mission and Vision
Over the past several years, consultations with peer supporters across Canada have allowed us to become focussed on our core area of service. Last year during a Peer Support leadership meeting supported by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, a Mission and Vision were drafted. These have been slightly modified and approved by the Board. They are:
To promote the recognition, growth, and accessibility of peer support.
Our mission will be achieved by using the PSACC Standards of Practice as the basis to:
- Promote mental health peer support through education and awareness;
- Certify qualified peer supporters;
- Accredit qualified peer support training programs;
- Using recognized research methodologies to expand the evidence base related to peer support and to disseminate the findings.
Peer support is recognized and highly valued as an integrated component of the mental health system, accessible to all individuals and family members affected by mental health challenges and illness.
Continuing to Build Capacity
Board of Directors:
PSAC Canada expanded the Board of Directors from 3 to 7 members. We welcomed Jayne Barker, Diana Capponi, Shana Calixte and George Donovan at our two-day Board meeting last May. We encourage you to get to know our board members by visiting www.psac-canada.com.
A certification committee has now been officially formed. PSAC Canada is extremely grateful to have been able to recruit a complement of experienced peer support leaders to help build and oversee the certification process. The Committee is chaired by Fiona Wilson and members include: Wendy Mishkin, Debbie Sesula, Deborah Sherman, Frances Skerritt and Patrick Raymond. This committee is an essential requirement for a credentialing body such as PSAC Canada as it is charged with the development, validation and supervision of assessment processes and credentialing requirements. This committee is now well engaged and working diligently toward building our certification capacity.
Appointment of Executive Director:
Over the last six months, Kim Sunderland assumed several duties and responsibilities for PSAC Canada. During our last board meeting in May, the Board unanimously agreed to offer Mrs. Sunderland a continued role in leading the development of internal processes and named her as Executive Director for a period of one year.
Applying the PSACC Approach in a Practical Setting
As we reported in our last steps forward report, we are proud to be working with the Department of Health & Wellness in Nova Scotia to certify peer supporters in that province. The project is moving forward as planned. So far we have received applications from the first group of candidates, and have begun to issue the initial competency assessments and reference checks – the first step to certification.
In a few months, those who have been accepted into the certification process will be asked to attend an examination session where PSAC Canada will evaluate the knowledge component of the standards of practice. We expect this step to occur this summer, after which successful candidates will then embark on their PSACC practicum to confirm all competencies.
PSAC Canada is eager to work with other provinces/territories that may be interested in a program similar to what we are doing in Nova Scotia as a means of further testing our certification process and working out all the bugs before we make certification available to peer supporters on an individual basis throughout Canada. We encourage you to promote this and encourage interested parties to write to us at info(at)psac-canada.com.
As you can see, PSACC and our peer support community will continue making strides forward throughout 2013 to promote the growth and availability of peer support. The National Conference on Peer Support next spring will be an opportunity to share information about peer support with clinical, government and business leaders while continuing to network and to develop our peer support community. We expect that by then we will have validated our certification process with the assistance of the Nova Scotia Government project and soon after that, we plan to start phasing in our certification process to other communities across Canada. We thank you for your support in getting to this point.
Peer Support Accreditation and Certification (Canada)