The outburst of the COVID-19 pandemic challenged vulnerable populations such as individuals with significant mental illness. In this fresh focus, we describe the innovative development of the UPSIDES mental health peer support intervention, in face of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel. While the research program is still ongoing, in this paper we focus on the processes and lessons learned from dealing with the rapidly changing circumstances of the pandemic. We portray additional activities conducted above and beyond the UPSIDES protocol in order to maintain continuation and prevent dropout. We learned that an essential combination of keeping a close adherence with the core peer principles and UPSIDES’ systematic program and the use of flexible telecommunication means, helped to maintain social connection and service users’ participation throughout these times. The sudden pandemic challenges appeared to level out power imbalances and accelerated the formation of reciprocal and supportive relational interactions within the intervention. These processes highlight experiential knowledge as a unique asset, and peer support services as useful in supporting individuals with significant mental illness throughout COVID-19.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. UPSIDES has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 779263. This publication reflects only the authors’ view. The Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
© 2022, The Author(s).
- Mental health peer support
- Serious mental illness
- Social inclusion
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health