Will Dwyer-Joyce

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Will Dwyer-Joyce finally found the university experience he wanted with DCU’s Certificate in Peer Support - and says the course has given him greater confidence.

Will Dwyer-Joyce’s personal challenges with an eating disorder and his experience of working in the mental health sector were what drew him to DCU’s Certificate in Peer Support. “It really spoke to me,” says Will about his experience on the course.

The programme is for people with a personal experience of mental health issues who wish to work as a peer support worker or in similar roles in the sector. 

Will works at the Lois Bridges centre, an in-patient unit that treats people with eating disorders. Previously, he himself received treatment at the centre and so had a personal understanding of the issues, particularly for male patients.

He points out that “one in three people with eating disorders are men” but the issue remains relatively hidden.

Will had already begun to work with Lois Bridges as a co-facilitator for a support group for men with eating disorders. It was then that a colleague told him about the Certificate in Peer Support, saying “I think you'd be really good at that.”

“I went into DCU with a lot of educational baggage,” admits Will, who had started University courses in the past but could not complete them due to his struggles with a binge eating disorder. 

At DCU, a number of aspects of the course were a welcome surprise including the emphasis on discussion and engagement and the supportive atmosphere fostered by the teaching staff. 

“It’s a really multi-faceted course where you're learning about many different aspects of mental health struggles,” says Will. He found the diversity of the course participants from a wide variety of backgrounds made for “a rich learning experience”. 

One of his “lightbulb moments” was the realisation that Peer Support is not about trying to “fix” people. Instead, he believes it’s about understanding that everyone has a unique way of dealing with their issues. “There are many ways to walk up a hill,” says Will.

His experience on the course has given him greater confidence in bringing his personal experience to the table when discussing cases with the multidisciplinary team at Lois Bridges. “I'll say things and they go, ‘I actually didn't think of it that way.’”

After his previous experiences in higher education, he is particularly proud to have received a first in his Certificate. “This time I think it was something I was really passionate about. I was using my lived experience and it gave me a sense of meaning to everything that had come before,” says Will. 

DCU Prospectus - Go back to Certificate in Peer Support