At Advocates, we believe that people change and grow in connection with others. We also place tremendous value on the life experience of people in mental health and addiction recovery. Our growing team of peer specialists and recovery coaches use their expertise and personal stories to inspire hope and demonstrate that recovery is possible for everyone. Peer professionals support people in Advocates’ Behavioral Health programs in a variety of ways, including connecting them to recovery resources and a network of support outside of the mental health system. They also serve a vital role in raising awareness about mental health recovery in the wider community.
The peer specialist role is unique because it is not clinical. Peer specialists at Advocates listen and share and encourage. They don’t administer medications or take clinical notes. The relationship between a peer specialist and the person they are supporting is based on respect, mutuality, and trust. Many people at Advocates credit peer support as a crucial factor on the journey to recovery. As Sharon explains, “Partnering with a peer specialist has helped me realize that I am in recovery and the next steps. They enlighten me and encourage me to strive for the stars.”
Labels and stigma hurt, but relationships can heal. In this video Heidi, a Peer Support Coordinator at Advocates, explains why it is so important to end stigma and see each person as an individual.