Peer Support Program

PROGRAM BACKGROUND:
Peer support program has been a part of KOSHISH, formed as a self help organization, right from its inception in 2008. The stigmatization associated with psychosocial disability, and the lack of support from family and friends, generally means that the person with psychosocial disability bottle up their feelings and problems, and keep it to themselves. It results in development of negative thoughts, stress, isolation, and exhaustion and gives them a feeling of them being the only person who is going through this and that no one understands them. Realizing this, KOSHISH began peer support programs to address the need of the beneficiaries and provide a platform where they could gather in a safe, secure, confidential, and trustworthy environment; connect them to people with similar problems and share their experiences, express their feelings and discuss issues concerning their well-being. 
Peer support program acknowledges that persons with psychosocial disabilities have the strength and skills to recover and cope from their problems and in addition to it, can serve as valuable resources to others going through similar problems. It relates to the creation of an environment that is respectful, trusting and warm which allows participants to find their own answers and empowers them to make changes that will enhance their lives. They explore and learn to understand the issues relating to psychosocial disability to combat shame and stigma together, thus enhancing their self-esteem and self-efficacy. They are made aware of their rights and are encouraged to speak up for themselves and for others who are going through similar problems. Through participation in the peer support groups, they enhance their social skills, promote their social reintegration, share relevant information, improve support seeking behavior, have better understanding of their problem and become independent. 

The peer support program is cross cutting in all the other programs provided by KOSHISH and presents a good supplement in recovery of the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries of OPD services provided by Community Based Rehabilitation Program make up the most number of peer support members and support their own recovery through active participation in the meetings. Apart from it, the beneficiaries who have been reintegrated after their treatment from short term residential care provided by Emergency Psychosocial Support and Rehabilitation Program are also benefited from Peer Support Program. The peer support program has also been able to develop self-advocates who have been trained as part of Advocacy and Awareness Program and have been raising their voices and fighting for their rights before concerned authorities. 

OBJECTIVES OF THE PEER SUPPORT PROGRAM
•    Provide a safe, secure, confidential and trustworthy environment where participants can share their feelings and experiences.
•    Support the participants to connect with people having similar problems, enhance their social network and create a sense of belonging within the peer support network.
•    Help the clients to understand their problems better, find solutions from within the group, improve support seeking behavior and prevent further development of psychosocial problems.
•    Develop personality, confidence, and self-esteem, and empower individuals as well as the group to build resilience to combat stigma together.
•    Develop self-advocates to promote the issue of psychosocial disability within the community and among concerned authorities. 
•    Identify their skills and competence, and enhance them through various activities.
•    Improve integration of participants in their family and society, ensuring a better social life and involvement in the community.

SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES
KOSHISH has been operating peer support groups for almost 9 years now and has provided service to more than 100 peer support members. The peer support program has reached out to people in their own communities and there are 6 peer support groups in operation at the moment (Thimi, Chyamasing, Dadikot and Bageshwori in Bhaktapur and Jawalakhel and Lele in Lalitpur) with a total of 10 peer support meetings in a month with plans of extending it to other places and increasing the frequency of meetings as per the need of the beneficiaries. The activities in peer support program include sharing sessions, therapies (Meditation, music, dance), counseling, information sharing and games.  

OUTPUT
The output of peer support program is increase in speaking and communication skills, reduced isolation, better knowledge about their problem and extension of social network for persons with psychosocial disability.  

OUTCOME
The outcome of peer support program is enhancement of leadership skill, improved functionality, improved work efficiency, enhanced self-esteem and confidence and increased ability to cope with risk.

IMPACT
The impact of peer support program is development of self-advocates, improved health condition and increased participation in the labor market.

How to be a Peer Support Member:
Any person who has gone through or is going through mental health/psychosocial issues can be a peer support member. Entering a peer support program is free of cost. Interested participant will have to go through a short evaluation by the counselor and after the eligibility has been determined, they will be enrolled in the program. The members are then informed about the meetings and venue by KOSHISH. Any person interested to know more about Peer Support Program can contact through phone number or with an email given below. 

Peer Support Meeting Schedule:
Chyamasing:   Every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month (11 AM - 1 PM)
Thimi:              Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month (11 AM - 1 PM)
Dadikot:          Every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month (11 AM - 1 PM)
Jawlakhel:      Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month (11 AM - 1 PM)
Bageshwori:   Every 1st Monday of the month (11 AM - 1 PM)
Lele:               Every 4th Wednesday of the month (11 AM - 1 PM)

For more information, suggestions or feedback, contact: Kundan Kaphle, Ph No: 9841797424
                                                           
Email: peersupport@koshishnepal.org (all the information shared in the email will remain confidential)