Peer support for consumers with borderline personality disorder: A qualitative study

Publication Name

Advances in Mental Health


Objective: Peer support may be a valuable way to support recovery in borderline personality disorder (BPD). This study investigates the role of peer workers in services supporting consumers with BPD. Method: We studied peer work delivered in five different types of mental health services, including outpatient mental health and independent peer-run services. Surveys were conducted with peer workers (n = 5), consumers of the peer work (n = 14) and clinicians in the same service (n = 4). Qualitative responses were analysed using interpretative thematic analysis. Results: Consumers with BPD receiving peer support benefitted by feeling understood, hopeful and less isolated. Peer workers were described as role modelling a meaningful life, understanding the unique experiences associated with BPD, and providing skills in the context of their own personal experiences. Peer workers providing peer support benefitted by being reminded to practise their own wellbeing skills, and experienced challenges when responding to consumer risk and trauma experiences. Clinicians increased their understanding of BPD through discussions with peer workers. Discussion: Findings show evidence regarding the unique contributions of peer support for consumers with BPD. Challenges were experienced by peer workers, and they recommended peer supervision being more accessible and available. Future research is required to evaluate mechanisms in peer support that contribute to recovery in consumers with BPD.

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