Peer Education: Productive Engagement for Older African Americans in Recovery From Depression

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Depression, African American Older Adults, Productive aging, Mental health (services therapy)

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Background and Objectives: Older adults who have personal experience with the mental health service delivery system gain unique and potentially valuable insight from their treatment experiences. Research suggests that incorporating trained individuals in recovery from a mental illness (i.e., peer educators) into mental health service delivery roles results in substantial benefits for current mental health consumers, particularly for older adults and racial and ethnic minorities who may feel disenfranchised from the traditional mental health service delivery system. However, little research has examined the impact of participating in these activities on the peer educators themselves.

Research Design and Methods: This mixed methods study examines the experiences of 10 African American older adults in recovery from depression currently working as trained peer educators. Peer educators reported feeling more positive, feeling their lives had significantly improved, and feeling better in general due to their peer educator roles.

Results: This qualitative investigation highlights four unique themes that can explain the benefit of serving in this capacity (i.e., Community Engagement, Life Long Learning and Education, Mental Health Recovery and Productive Aging).

Discussion and Implications: This study suggests that serving has a peer educator has a number of beneficial outcomes for African American older adults in recovery from depression.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

The Gerontologist, v. 58, issue 5, p. 813-824