Peer Support .....
It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Peer Support is an interpersonal relationship that is respectful, non judgmental, trusting and warm, allowing people to find their own answers and empowering them to make changes that will enhance their lives. Peer Support is an integral component of rehab and recovery for people experiencing mental illness.
In 2005, the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division’s Department of Adult Crisis Services received two County Crisis Initiative Grants from the State of Wisconsin. One of the outcomes of the grant was to integrate peer support as a vital part of adult crisis services.
Our Space then collaborated with the Behavioral Health Division to find a Peer Support Training Program. We held our first training in December 2005 using the META Services Training Manual. Since then we have done 8 trainings and currently use the National Association of Peer Specialists training manual. The program sustained due to a Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Grant Our Space received for over 5 years, it was a collaborative effort with Medical College-Dr. Jon Gudeman.
Our most recent trainings were held in 2013 with the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division Peer Pipeline money disbursed for collaborative work with community partnering agencies to increase Peer Support. The topics discussed in the training include but are not limited to: information on recovery, meaning and purpose of work, developing self-esteem, cultural awareness, substance abuse, ethics and boundaries, trauma informed care, conflict resolution, listening and communication skills, suicide prevention and partnering with professionals. Individuals, who pass the training, are then re-interviewed for job placement.
Currently, Our Space has Peer Specialist working in several different venues around Milwaukee County. We have Peer Specialists working in Supportive Apartments- Empowerment Village-National and Lincoln, Farwell Studio Apartments and at the Fardale Supported Apartments. We also have Certified Peer Specialists working at the Pathways to Permanent Housing Program and in the Wisconsin Community Services (WCS) programs. Our program continues to grow as the Certified Peer Specialist Program continues to expand throughout Milwaukee County.
Mental Health Consumers who use their experience and gift to help others in their recovery process, they provide the message of hope and recovery. A Peer Specialist is an adult who has not only lived the experience of mental illness, but also has had formal training in the Peer Specialist model of Mental Health Supports. They use their unique set of recovery experiences in combination with solid skills training to support peers who have mental illness.