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The Conversation about peer support

Posted Oct 24 2011 1:29am

In a meeting a couple of days ago someone asked me what I thought needed to happen to change the mental health system for the best.  I told them the people who believed in peer support and the recovery model needed to have a much louder voice.  I think what I said was that they needed to “speak often, speak loudly and speak together.”  I think that now more than ever.

In Tennessee there is growing support for the ideas of peer support and recovery.  There is one organization- Tennessee Mental Health Consumers Association-  which has pioneered the use of certified peer specialists in a treatment setting and managed to find a way to make it all reimbursable by insurance.  The Office of Consumer Affairs in the Dept. of Mental Health has helped to pioneer a peer specialist accreditation program and has shown consistent leadership in furthering the ideas of recovery.  We have recently held the first peer specialist conference which was an outstanding success with 170 attending.  The conversation is growing.

But I want to ask a question.  Is a time to talk about an independent organization of peer specialists and others that goes across organizations, that is not affialated or tied to any institutional setting to speak, advocate and argue for the future of peer specialists and the recovery model in Tennessee?  Most states that I am aware of have an organization similiar to this.

The purpose would not be to in any way substitute or challenge any existing programs or approaches.  As I have said before many people are making great efforts.  But maybe if we had a wider tent whose members main point of commonality was their commitment to a similiar vision more can be done.  I have talked with many people in Tennessee who believe it is time.

What do you think?  If you are interested in being part of the conversation I invite you to go to the following site.  “Making peer support real”  http://groups.google.com/group/making-peer-support-real  .  Please consider this your invitation to join.  It is a conversation very much due and very much needed.  If you know others that you think might be interested please share this with them.

I look forward to hearing from you.  Change is possible.  It is especially possible if we speak and we act.  It is time to find our voice.  I hope that you will choose to help begin the conversation to find that voice.


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