What is Peer Support?
Peer support services are delivered by individuals who have common life experiences with the people they are serving. People with mental and/or substance use disorders have a unique capacity to help each other based on a shared affiliation and a deep understanding of this experience. In self-help and mutual support, people offer this support, strength, and hope to their peers, which allows for personal growth, wellness promotion, and recovery.
What can Peer Support Offer Me?
Peer support: Advocate, connect resources, engage in experimental sharing, provide one-on-one support, assist in community building, relationship building, skill building, mentoring and goal setting, including socialization/self-esteem building, develop awareness of triggers, assist with individual with developing daily living activities to create an over-all peaceful guidelines to assist in managing life challenges, and provides hope.
Peers also provide assistance that promotes a sense of belonging within the community. The ability to contribute to and enjoy one’s community is key to recovery and well-being. Another critical component that peers provide is the development of self-efficacy through role modeling and assisting peers with ongoing recovery through mastery of experiences and finding meaning, purpose, and social connections in their lives.
Our Work In Supportive Housing
To support individuals in improving their skills and abilities to:
Manage symptoms and / or triggers
Decrease alcohol / substance use
Increase self-reliance and achieve functional independence
Promote feelings of hope and overall wellness
Foster the development of healthy relationships
Create community connections and natural supports
Improve personal safety and stability
Improve access to or engagement in needed clinical and / or supportive services
Advocate for personal needs
Identify personal recovery goals
Successfully navigate complex systems
Demonstrate personal accountability
Our Space, Inc. perceived early on the value and importance of peer support. Our Space was the first organization in Milwaukee County and one of the first in the state of Wisconsin to offer peer support services. In 2004, Our Space with the Social Rehabilitation and Residential Resources began offering peer support services to residents of the Fardale Supportive Apartments. Over the next 15 years, Our Space expanded its peer support services to residents of supportive housing facilities across the metropolitan area, and now provides services to 170 residents in five facilities. In 2005, Our Space received funding from the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership to implement a peer specialist training program, the first in the Milwaukee area. With the hiring of a state-approved CPS trainer.
We Know It Works!
In 2016, Our Space partnered with Cenpatico now known as MHS, a private insurance company, to reduce the high utilization of emergency services. Through this pilot program, MHS identified members who volunteered to receive peer support. The results in the first year saw a dramatic reduction in the use of high-cost emergency services among members receiving peer support. While the services cannot be billed to Medicaid, the cost savings more than justified the continuation of the program in 2017 and beyond.
A Community That Grows Together!
Our Space provides peer support services to the following programs:
- Our Space Drop-in Center
- Comprehensive Community Services (CCS)
- Post-Booking Stabilization
- Family Drug Treatment Court
- Wiser Choice
- WCS-Forensics Services: Conditional Release (CR) and Opening Avenues to Re-entry Success (OARS) programs
- Cenpatico/MHS Health Wisconsin
- Supportive Housing: Highland Commons, Empowerment Villages, and Farwell Studio
- Housing First: Pathways to Permanent Housing at Thurgood Marshall and Set Ministry scattered housing