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"Independent advocacy supports a person's right to have their own voice heard in decisions made about their health and well-being. ... any person can benefit from advocacy if, for whatever reason, they find it difficult to put their own case to service providers or do not feel in a strong position to exercise or defend their rights. It is particularly helpful for people who are at risk of being mistreated or ignored, or who wish to negotiate a change in their care, or are facing a period of crisis. Advocacy can be used by people with physical or mental disorders, or by people who simply feel overwhelmed and confused by institutions and care, or by their carers. It can be difficult, for a number of reasons, for service users to speak up for themselves. Advocacy can give a route by which this may be achieved."

(Limited Review of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003)


Culturally and Linguistically Diverse. Peer support services specifically for people from CALD communities may be in a specific language (eg. Vietnamese) or designed for a group with a common background (eg. Sudanese refugees).



Someone who provides practical and emotional support to someone with a mental health issue. Carers may be parents, siblings, other family members, partners, friends or neighbours. A carer may or may not live with the person they support.



A person with experience of mental health issues / mental illness / distress


Lived experience

Having personal experience mental health issues / mental illness / distress or of being a family member/carer of someone who has


Mental health

'the capacity of individuals and groups to interact with one another and the environment, in ways that promote subjective wellbeing, optimal development and the use of cognitive, affective and relational abilities'

(Mental Health Council of Australia, 2007)


‘various programs and/or relationships, whether formal or informal, which aim to build the skills or wellbeing of a … person through the input and/or assistance of another person (or peer) who has skills, experience and knowledge’

(Department of Planning & Community Development, 2007)



The active input into service delivery and/or policy-making development by a specific, affected population in order to encourage appropriate provisioning.

(National Health and Medical Research Council, 2004)


Peer support (also known as Mutual Support Self Help)

A definition is accessible here


Peer support worker

A person with lived experience who is employed to support, assist and/or mentor consumers of mental health services or families/carers


Professional-run / Professional-moderated

A therapeutic activity (such as a support group) which is facilitated by someone with a relevant professional qualification



'Recovery is a process, a way of life, an attitude, and a way of approaching the day’s challenges. It is not a perfectly linear process. At times our course is erratic and we falter, slide back, regroup and start again … The need is to meet the challenge of the disability and to re-establish a new and valued sense of integrity and purpose within and beyond the limits of the disability; the aspiration is to live, work, and love in a community in which one makes a significant contribution.'

(Patricia Deegan, 1988)


Self Help service

‘services are designed to encourage people to be active in their own recovery, and support a holistic approach to improve mental health, emotional well-being and quality of life’

(MSSH Agencies Service Development Plan – Department of Human Services, 2004)