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Accelerating the Availability of Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World
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Peers for Progress is a program of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation to promote peer support as a key part of health, health care, and prevention around the world. Ongoing support is a key factor in managing health. Peer support refers to support from a person sharing similar experiences with a disease or health problem. People need practical, social, and emotional support to manage and maintain good behaviors for health, and can be great sources of support for each other (Website).

Peer support is practical, social, and emotional support between people who share similar experiences with a disease or health problem. There is no“one-size-fits-all” approach
 to peer support around the world. Different cultural contexts influence health behaviors like diet, how we feel about diseases and health, and even how we give and receive support from others. Also, health care resources and systems vary tremendously. Amidst such variation, a core set of functions outline peer support around the world:

Help to implement daily personal plans for preventing and managing diseases. Daily activities include healthy eating, physical activity, stress management, and taking medications.

Social and emotional support — “being there” to promote use of skills, comfort, and help in dealing with stress.

Encouragement to see a health professional when appropriate — regular and quality care and taking care of things before they become problems.

Ongoing support — proactive, flexible, extended because prevention and disease management are “for the rest of your life.”

Applying these core functions of peer support may take many forms. For example, peer support can involve home visits, use of mobile phone technologies, group activities, and integration with health care teams. Thus, the four key functions provide a general outline for peer support while leaving flexibility to tailor programs to local and regional needs, populations, health systems, and cultures (Website).

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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services