What is a peer support specialist?


(1/16/2019)

From: Nicholas Guy/Gwiingwa’aage (Native name meaning “Wolverine”)
Minnesota peer support professional
Criminal Justice Coordinating Council

Governor Walz, Minnesota has a $1.54-billion surplus this year, so please, fund mental health services! I am one of many peer support specialists in Minnesota that can’t do my job because Minnesota hasn’t given us our funding. Please put us to work as certified peers this year.

Minnesota certified peer support specialists offer services that can further aid those in recovery from trauma and various addictions such as alcoholism and drug addictions. We are well trained in these areas. We are not psychiatrists or mental health counselors. We are part of a Minnesota team of specialists that have gone through trauma, have gone through various addictions such as drug abuse and alcoholism, and realize that the road to recovery is always a slippery uphill battle.

We encourage self-empowerment. Our beliefs are modeled in “Shrec” — spirituality, hope, recovery environment, empowerment and compassion. We encourage those seeking to be independent to find their own paths that will help them become independent and free of group homes and constant counseling. You can consider us friends on a contract basis. We offer help until not needed and we move on to help others when a client feels he/she can go on without us.

This is what a peer does: help assigned clients identify strengths and assets; identify community resources; develop relationships with community groups and agencies; provide encouragement for involvement in community-based activities such as work, relationships, physical activity and hobbies; identify barriers to a clients participation; provide access to support services; and we promote and search all resources that the client has not considered, such as wellness recovery action plans.

Peer support specialists work independently in a variety of settings including community engagement and individual homes. Our purpose is to empower those that seek individuality while maintaining on-going mental health services. Certified peers will always be there in case someone falters. I have walked this recovery road many times. I fell many times and I retained my support groups to help me recover. We are here in Winona County, not funded to do our job.

Mitakuye oyasin: All are connected.

 

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