Program Feature: Peer Support Program

Quick Overview
The Peer Support Program helps individuals living with or experiencing psychiatric illness through a recovery process. The Certified Peer Specialists have lived experiences of their own, so they use their own recovery to help clients succeed in their mental health journey. The Certified Peer Specialists are able to build a personal relationship with the clients they see and open up on a level that other programs do not always get the chance to do.

The Peer Support Department is a vital service. Certified Peer Specialists are able to give clients one-on-one personal attention. They are able to be vulnerable and share experiences with clients that make the clients truly feel that someone else understands the struggles they too have faced. Clients really are receptive to being in the program and talking to someone who also has a mental health diagnosis of their own and is able to openly share about their lives.

Recent Accomplishments
We have some exciting news! For the first time ever, the Peer Support Program was able to make a Certified Peer Specialist position full-time. As of the beginning of the New Year, Anthony Keller will be working toward building himself a full case load as the first ever full-time Peer Specialist!

Current Challenges
The biggest challenges have to be time and availability. Time is always a factor in everything we do. My staff have to be able to find availability in their schedules to see new clients and juggle the current ones and sometimes that can be hard! I have such resilient staff, though, and they just go with the flow and get things done! I have always felt really lucky to work for this agency and am constantly grateful to have the same staff as when I started this position over two years ago! The Peer Support Program is only growing and I cannot wait to see where this Program heads in the future, so stay tuned!

What We're Working On
The Peer Support Department was recently contracted by the County and are able to take County Liability for our services,  so we are currently working on building those relationships. Taking another payer besides Medical Assistance was a huge triumph for the Peers. The Program is also working on seeing clients 14 years of age and up, which is a new age range where previously the client age had to be 18 years of age to be seen. The Peer Support Department has grown so much and we are really excelling at expanding quicker than we ever imagined and we could not be more excited with that growth!

Upcoming Goals
Goals for the department in the upcoming year include being able to take larger caseloads. The Department is working on new structuring and new ideas to see more clients, but still give the same level of care that TrueNorth Wellness Services strives for!

By Kelsey Hawbaker, Manager of Peer Support Services - York/Adams & Franklin/Fulton Counties