What is Peer Support? How can it help in mental health therapy?

Texas News Today

Rachel Chambers was afraid to talk about her mental health challenges.

He was hospitalized for the first time at the age of 14. She was a straightforward student and cross-country runner, but she was always isolated and nervous. She didn’t know how to ask for help, so she took some pills.

“I don’t know if I went to the counselor and said, ‘Oh, sad,’ because I don’t know if they told me or not. [mom]She said, ‘I just wanted to look normal, so I wasn’t ready to tell my mom that I was depressed. “

She said she was lucky that her mother took care of her and was treated, but looking back, she benefited from talking to a man with a mental illness who learned to deal with it. Thinking.

Chambers is the co-founder and chief operating officer of Painted Brain, a mental health non-profit organization in Peeron. Now she tells everyone about bipolar disorder and multiple hospitalizations. It is part of his job.

“We tell people to talk to us if they need anyone,” Chambers said. “We’ve experienced it. Most of us are hospitalized and they have board and care. And now we have a full-time job. We’re working. Most of us are taking medication or dealing with it.” Looking for other ways.”

What is Peer Support?

“Much of the work of fellow supporters is to use self-disclosure to benefit the people we serve,” said Guyton Colantuno, executive director of Project Return Peer Support Network. [challenges]Serves as an example of actual recovery and defect [issues around] mental health. ”

He noted that typical peer support services include:

  • Provide one-on-one support and promote self-help groups.
  • Help people develop a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP).
  • Helps customers access resources.
  • Help people deliver on promises.
  • protect the members.

Illustration by Aamer Azad, one of the former members of the art group that has grown into the mental health non-profit Painted Brain.

(Amel Azad)

“It’s a transition from a clinical support model to a social support model,” said Reham Schalabi, a graduate student in psychiatry at the University of Alberta, about the effectiveness of peer support as a service that gaps between people. Helps to bridge I wrote a report for 2020 to study. With mental illness and medical professionals.

The idea is that peers can help patients re-enter society, become more involved in the community, and provide a safety net to catch patients before they fall.

Schalabi also conducted a study of how patients recently discharged from acute psychiatric care responded to adding peer support and helpful text messaging programs, which gave patients more confidence and hope. I’ve found that this prompts me to ask for help.

“I think it’s important to understand that peer support services have been shown to be effective in reducing recurrences in more expensive and restricted parts of the system, such as hospitals, prisons, and the homeless.” Masu, Colentuono said.

“It supports clinical research,” Chambers said. “You have a team of interdisciplinary practitioners working with you to build trust and guide your peers to seek care.”

How peer support has evolved

Peer support has always been an important part of recovery from mental illness, as alcoholics find friendships with other AA members and breast cancer survivors support those being treated. However, historically it has been considered a volunteer activity.

Sally Zinman, executive director of California Assn. Members of the Mental Health Peeran organization helped launch the country’s first state-wide Peeran organization in the 1970s.

“We thought of ourselves as a civil rights movement,” she said. “We advocate for veterans’ rights, services that meet their needs,” she said. “Services that are more holistic and based on real-life needs, not just the medical model…. Not only are there chemical imbalances and pills are needed,” but the approach to mental health is completely different. “

Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB803, the Peer Support Specialist Certification Program Act, as the first step in specializing in the work of peer support specialists.

California will be the 49th state to allow these services to be billed through Medicare and Medicaid. By July 2022, the state department will establish requirements for these programs, including standardized curricula, training and accreditation.

Suicide Prevention and Crisis Counseling Resources

If you or someone you know is suffering from suicidal ideation, seek help from a specialist and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). To reach the crisis text line, in the United States and Canada send the text “Home” to 741741.

Chambers said people with mental health problems would find peer support as a potential career path.

It is a profession where they are transparent about their challenges, have people around who understand their struggles, and can take pride in their ability to help those who remind them of their past.

“I’m happy to be here,” Chambers said. “I see a creepy little Rachel. ‘Oh, you should see what you’re doing now,'” she said. “You’re strong. Someone loves you. Thank you. You. There’s a community. There’s a connection. You know where you can find help. And you know, it’s normal to feel crazy from time to time. Feeling scared abound.”

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