11 January 2023

Mind Australia Peer Practitioner Jesse Rochow says peer support brings acceptance, empathy and understanding into a person’s mental health recovery journey. 

Peer practitioners, like Jesse, use their own lived experience of mental health and wellbeing challenges to provide practical and emotional support to others who are struggling. 

“With peer work we have a different rapport with clients that is holistic and based on reciprocity. We open space to nurture clients, and make sure that their voices are heard,” Jesse said. 

“In the past we have focused on the medical model for mental health care, but there is so much value in peer work. I think both models are important and the more we can integrate them the better a person’s recovery journey will be.” 

Jesse’s own journey with mental illness began in his twenties when he started experiencing psychotic episodes and anxiety as well as a mood disorder. 

“It was a lot for a young man to deal with; I spent many years slowly picking up the pieces as I reconciled living with mental health conditions,” Jesse said. 

“Underneath I was still the same Jesse, something that some people found hard to grasp. Fortunately, I had family and friends who supported me, and I was able to begin my recovery journey.” 

It was Jesse’s gratitude towards those who supported him, as well as a growing compassion for others struggling with similar issues, that motivated him to join Mind’s peer support workforce based at the Burnside Housing and Accommodation Support Partnership program in South Australia – a unique service model that provides 24/7 supported accommodation and psychosocial rehabilitation services to people living with mental illness. 

“It was my way of giving back and wanting to improve other people’s mental health journeys. I am a big believer in working alongside clients to inspire them and give them hope,” Jesse said. 

“In a strange way I feel somewhat grateful for the adversity I have experienced. From hardship I have found more empathy for those around me.” 

In December 2022, Jesse won an organisational excellence award for his commitment to supporting clients and championing the voices of lived experience. 

To learn more about Mind Australia support services near you contact Mind Connect on 1300 286 463.    

If this article raises concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.