Peer support mental health program a win at Montfort, Queensway Carleton

The Queensway Carleton and Montfort Hospitals are the first in the region to offer a peer support and family support program that helps people who live with mental illness or substance abuse get on the right track.

And it's one that staff say really works.

Recovery Connections matches up patients with a peer support worker -- someone who has gone through what they are going through, will create a rapport with them and steer them in the right direction.

Manon Crevier, a social worker at Montfort says it works kind of like Alcoholics Anonymous.

"It's the type of relationship that's like AA," she told CFRA. "They can just sit and talk about the weather, but it's just somebody there that they can access whenever they want without being told 'wait I'll be back because I have four more patients I have to see.'"

At Montfort, patients that agree are directly connected with a peer support worker. That worker will then follow up with them when they are admitted.

"The big bonus for them it's having somebody who will be there during their stay at the hospital that have actually been through the same process, so it's having that advice from people that you know that had some experience in the past and they can advise you and support you through that stay," said Montfort Hospital CEO Bernard Leduc.

When a patient is ready to leave the hospital, their peer support worker will recommend a number of programs for them.

"What these people do when they're in hospital with our patients is talk to those patients about what will be available for them in the community and I think that they have such a large knowledge and scope of what's available in the community that we don't always have or know," said Hazel Alexander, the Clinical Manager of Mental Health Services with the Queensway Carleton.

The program is funded through the Champlain Local Integrated Health Network and will eventually be expanded to other area hospital.

The program has already helped more than 300 people at Montfort and 150 at the Queensway Carleton.

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