Mobilizing Peer Support for Well-being series features eight skills that increase the quality and quantity of mutual support for achieving healthy lifestyle goals.
Family, friends and coworkers are in an excellent position to help each other make lasting and positive lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier, managing stress, stopping smoking, and becoming physically active. It adapts many of the techniques used by health and well-being coaches.
The Peer Support approach has been applied in many well-being program contexts. It is particularly well suited to organizations with remote work settings and to workforces that are primarily male. (In many work cultures, men are more open to buddy systems than support groups.) The flexibility of a support system that only requires two participants is particularly versatile.
The ideas incorporated in this series first appeared in the book, Healthy Habits, Helpful Friends, by Judd Allen, Ph.D., and the subsequent video, With a Little Help from my Friends. The peer support approach has been used in live peer support training and in an online format. Several hundred Peer Coaches were trained in a community-wide initiative based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Chevron used the peer support approach in a game format called “The Game of Lifestyle Change.” Union Pacific Railroad trained their safety captains to be Wellness Mentors. Several universities integrated the peer support curriculum into their first-year coursework. A Brazilian movie series featuring peer support for specific goals, such as eating healthier and becoming physically active, was popular in several hundred companies.