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Constructing a positive identity : a qualitative study of the driving forces of peer workers in mental health care systems

Joeri Vandewalle (UGent) , Bart Debyser (UGent) , Dimitri Beeckman (UGent) , Tina Vandecasteele (UGent) , Eddy Deproost (UGent) , Ann Van Hecke (UGent) and Sofie Verhaeghe (UGent)
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Abstract
There is growing recognition in mental health for the perspective of individuals with lived experience of mental health problems and mental health service use. As peer workers, these individuals can use their specific experience to benefit and support peers and professional caregivers, and to participate at all levels of mental health-care systems. The aim of the present study was to develop a conceptual framework representing the driving forces of peer workers to fullfil their position in mental health-care systems. A qualitative interview approach was employed using principles of grounded theory. Over a period of 5months in 2014-2015, semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 peer workers in residential and community mental health-care systems. The emerged conceptual framework reveals that peer workers strive towards constructing a positive identity. This process is powered by driving forces reflecting a desire for normalization and an urge for self-preservation. Peer workers realize a meaningful employment by using their lived experience perspective as an asset, liberating themselves out of restrictive role patterns, and by breaking down stigma and taboo. As a precondition to engage in these normalization processes, peer workers perceive they need to secure their self-preservation by balancing the emergence of adverse emotional fluctuations. The conceptual framework can inform the development of work contexts in which peer workers have an authentic and meaningful contribution, while being offered sufficient support and learning opportunities to manage their well-being.
Keywords
identity, mental health care, nurse, peer worker, qualitative research, GROUNDED THEORY, SUPPORT, RECOVERY, PROVIDERS, SERVICES, PERSPECTIVE, ILLNESSES, INVOLVEMENT, EXPERIENCES, CHALLENGES

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Chicago
Vandewalle, Joeri, Bart Debyser, Dimitri Beeckman, Tina Vandecasteele, Eddy Deproost, Ann Van Hecke, and Sofie Verhaeghe. 2018. “Constructing a Positive Identity : a Qualitative Study of the Driving Forces of Peer Workers in Mental Health Care Systems.” International Journal of Mental Health Nursing 27 (1): 378–389.
APA
Vandewalle, Joeri, Debyser, B., Beeckman, D., Vandecasteele, T., Deproost, E., Van Hecke, A., & Verhaeghe, S. (2018). Constructing a positive identity : a qualitative study of the driving forces of peer workers in mental health care systems. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MENTAL HEALTH NURSING, 27(1), 378–389.
Vancouver
1.
Vandewalle J, Debyser B, Beeckman D, Vandecasteele T, Deproost E, Van Hecke A, et al. Constructing a positive identity : a qualitative study of the driving forces of peer workers in mental health care systems. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MENTAL HEALTH NURSING. 2018;27(1):378–89.
MLA
Vandewalle, Joeri, Bart Debyser, Dimitri Beeckman, et al. “Constructing a Positive Identity : a Qualitative Study of the Driving Forces of Peer Workers in Mental Health Care Systems.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MENTAL HEALTH NURSING 27.1 (2018): 378–389. Print.
@article{8516162,
  abstract     = {There is growing recognition in mental health for the perspective of individuals with lived experience of mental health problems and mental health service use. As peer workers, these individuals can use their specific experience to benefit and support peers and professional caregivers, and to participate at all levels of mental health-care systems. The aim of the present study was to develop a conceptual framework representing the driving forces of peer workers to fullfil their position in mental health-care systems. A qualitative interview approach was employed using principles of grounded theory. Over a period of 5months in 2014-2015, semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 peer workers in residential and community mental health-care systems. The emerged conceptual framework reveals that peer workers strive towards constructing a positive identity. This process is powered by driving forces reflecting a desire for normalization and an urge for self-preservation. Peer workers realize a meaningful employment by using their lived experience perspective as an asset, liberating themselves out of restrictive role patterns, and by breaking down stigma and taboo. As a precondition to engage in these normalization processes, peer workers perceive they need to secure their self-preservation by balancing the emergence of adverse emotional fluctuations. The conceptual framework can inform the development of work contexts in which peer workers have an authentic and meaningful contribution, while being offered sufficient support and learning opportunities to manage their well-being.},
  author       = {Vandewalle, Joeri and Debyser, Bart and Beeckman, Dimitri and Vandecasteele, Tina and Deproost, Eddy and Van Hecke, Ann and Verhaeghe, Sofie},
  issn         = {1445-8330},
  journal      = {INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MENTAL HEALTH NURSING},
  keyword      = {identity,mental health care,nurse,peer worker,qualitative research,GROUNDED THEORY,SUPPORT,RECOVERY,PROVIDERS,SERVICES,PERSPECTIVE,ILLNESSES,INVOLVEMENT,EXPERIENCES,CHALLENGES},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {378--389},
  title        = {Constructing a positive identity : a qualitative study of the driving forces of peer workers in mental health care systems},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/inm.12332},
  volume       = {27},
  year         = {2018},
}

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