A peer support specialist is someone with “lived experience” with many aspects of life with mental health, trauma, or substance use. Some even have experience living with autism and IDD. And then there are peers that are also veterans. A peer has moved from existing to recovery and thriving in what ever way that looks like for them. Their personal experience with challenges in life provide support that others struggle with and cannot replicate.
A peer support specialist roll is to walk with those that we serve and be there in what ever way that the person says. We can assist in articulating goals for recovery, learning and practicing new skills, helping with monitoring progress, supporting in personal choices, modeling effective coping techniques and self-help or life hack strategies based on the peer specialist’s own experience, support and educate on advocating for oneself, and be bringers of hope.
Peer support is only as effective as you make it! We can help you and support you in any way that you ask, but if you are part of your recovery and walk with us, then the results are beyond what you can dream! People have gone from anxiety so bad that they can not leave their house to going shopping on their own. Others have found positive support that allowed them to get past all the negative thoughts that go on inside the head. Where can we help you move forward?
In 2007, the Department of Health and Human Services recognized peer support services as an evidence-based practice. Meaning that it is a proven beneficial practice in someone’s life that helps them become better in their recovery. It also informed all 50 state Medicaid directors that The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would pay for peer support services, provided that the peer support specialists--like other types of healthcare providers--were governed by a statewide training and credentialing program. Many states have accomplished this task and others are still working out the details.
Now the easy answer to this is schooling. While counselors go to college to train to be one, peers went to the school of hard knocks and then after that went through a certification training. But one thing that makes us different is how we can relate. Many of us have gone to a counselor at times and felt like we were not heard or that we could not relate to them. Well, their ethics won’t allow them to talk about their life or if they have a mental health diagnosis whereas a peer it says it in our ethics! We are encouraged to tell you our story so that you see you are not alone, that we have been there.
Peer support specialist can also help to create healthy, respectful relationships and a developed sense of empathy. Through working with one, you can find a person that understands getting help and services for mental health. You will find that you are not alone and there is a person that is there for you. It is important because we all need someone that understands us, doesn't judge us, and helps us find hope!
Peer Support Specialist are another tool in your belt to help you develop and live a plan of recovery! I tis proven that with a peer support specialist that you can find the hope to change! We show you that it can be done because we did! Think of it this way, you are the top of a stool, each thing that supports you is a peg, your counselor is one, the doctor and medications are one, family and friends are one, and so forth. The more pegs you have the more stable you are. And peer support is a very unique peg as we know what it is like when there are no pegs and not stable! We offer hope that you too can make it!
A peer group is a group that is made up of people that have lived experience within that particular group’s reason for existing. Even the facilitator of the group! It is also a place to grow your support and make friends!