Peer Specialist

Peer:  Any individual living with mental health, behavioral, communication, or emotional challenges – including but not limited to substance abuse or trauma histories. It includes those who currently receive formal system services, those on an alternate path to wellness (such as 12 step or spiritual approaches), and those who are “yet to be connected” due to a lack of awareness or access to recovery-oriented beliefs and approaches. 

Peer Specialist: Any individual living in recovery with mental illness and / or substance abuse and who provides peer support to others whosquare hands smaller can benefit from their lived experiences.   The Peer Specialist engages and encourages service recipients in recovery by providing a sense of belonging, modeling supportive relationships, valued roles and community. The goal of the Peer Specialist is to promote recovery, wellness, independent living, self direction to enhance the skill and ability of service recipients to meet their chosen goals.

I know the way….

a story of Peer Specialists:

A man was walking along the sidewalk when he fell into a  hole in the ground.  This hole was deeper than he was tall, and try as he might, he could not climb out of the hole by himself.  So he yelled, “HELP! Help me please!!  Is there anyone up there?”  A passerby peeked over the edge of the hole and said “Maybe you could dig holes in the dirt of the wall and climb out—here’s a shovel, I’ll toss it down to you.”  And then the passerby walked off without realizing that the walls were not made of dirt, but of cement, and the shovel was useless.

So the man in the hole yelled again: “Help me!  Somebody please help me!”  And another passerby looked over the edge of the hole and said “My goodness—what a mess you’ve gotten yourself into!  But look—here’s a plank…I’ll toss it down, and then you can lean it up against the wall and just walk out on your own.”  And that’s what this passerby did…and then he walked off without realizing that the board was not high enough to reach the edge of the hole and was just as useless as the shovel. 

The man in the hole was desperate.  Two people tried to help and he was still stuck in the hole.  Would he die there?  Once again he yelled “Help me!  PLEASE help me!”  This time, another passerby peered into the hole and with no hesitation he jumped into the hole feet first.  The man in the hole said “What are you doing?  Now we’re both stuck down here!!!”  The third passerby, said “Hey, no worries man—I’ve been here before and I know the way out.  We’ll go together – you’re going to be fine!” 

 The third passerby is a Peer Specialist; someone who says “I’ve been here before and I know the way out.  We’ll go together – you’re going to be fine!”