Peer Support as a Tool for Community Care: “Nothing About Us, Without Us”

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Shinjini Bakshi

Abstract

In the face of socio-political marginalization, frontline communities reclaim power by harnessing peer wisdom and resilience. The year 2020 marked the confluence of a global pandemic and widespread resistance against anti-Black racism and police violence, highlighting the value of peer voices and community perspectives. To dismantle and transcend carceral approaches to community care, the field of social work is invited to join a larger anti-carceral mental health movement that honors lived experience and works alongside peers to build identity-affirming structures of mental health care. This article examines the ways in which frontline communities benefit from expanded access to anti-carceral formal and informal peer support as a mental health safety net that interrupts harm and prioritizes agency, consent, and self-determination. This paper broadens social work’s conceptualization of peer support through theoretical frameworks of anti-carceral social work, abolition, and intersectionality. Social work and its adjacent fields are called to urgently center Black liberation, collective healing, and community care by advocating for the integration of formal and informal peer support into mental health policy and practice. This paper strategically leans into a lineage of critical peer thought scholarship by utilizing footnotes and citations to model the ethical acknowledgment of peer labor within human rights movements. This intentional structure promotes radical solidarity that resists the exploitation of people with lived experience.

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How to Cite
Bakshi, S. (2021). Peer Support as a Tool for Community Care: “Nothing About Us, Without Us” . Columbia Social Work Review, 19(1), 20–43. https://doi.org/10.52214/cswr.v19i1.7602
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