Global Peer Support
2023 Global Peer Support Celebration Day is October 19!
This is an annual celebration of peer supporters, peer support, and recognizing their work in helping their peers with mental health, addictions, and or trauma-related challenges move along the continuum of recovery and inclusion into communities of his/her choice. Please join together in celebrating this annual event. More information can be found at Global Peer Support Celebration Day – National Association of Peer Supporters (peersupportworks.org)
We’re super proud and honored to highlight our Missouri Peers who are tirelessly working to uplift others. Hear it from them directly, as they share what the role of being a Peer means to them.
Fulton State Hospital
Being a peer is a great opportunity to share with others the truth that recovery is possible and to inspire hope that we can achieve our goals! Regularly sharing my recovery story reminds me of how far I have come and of the importance of maintaining my recovery.
Preferred Family Healthcare
Being a Peer to me is someone that through their lived experience can share understanding, respect and mutual empowerment and provide support while helping you stay engaged in recovery lifestyle.
I have had the privilege of serving the communities of eastern Jackson County for more that 4 yrs. I have learned more about myself and who I am that at any point in my almost 60yrs on this earth. I have had the opportunity to watch others have a light of hope be reignited inside them when they felt as though all hope was lost. I work with a Co-occurring disorder team. Most of our clients struggle daily with just making it through the day. I’ve had the opportunity to assist individuals get housing, food and other basic needs get met. I have watched as some struggle with overpowering emotions that can paralyze them. I have watch them overcome unhealthy dependencies to substances (some legal and some not). But I have also watched with disparity people get turned away because funding gets cut from programs that help them just meet their basic needs ( food, shelter, medical mental and physical health) and some just because they may not be in a place that they are comfortable with 100% abstinence from their substance if choice. I have been granted complete freedom from my illness and am so grateful for that. I only want to help others realize that there is hope and change although scaring can take place with help. You are not alone. When anyone anywhere reaches out for help, I hope that the hand of a Peer Support Specialist is there to help. Let’s give everyone who does this work a GREAT BIG THANK YOU!!!!
FCC Urgent Behavioral Health Crisis Center
It’s pretty amazing actually. When I first applied to FCC, I applied to a position as a Care Coodinator in a different program. I felt as though Peer support was “beneath” me. I was so incredibly wrong! True Peer support is such an important part of complete care when it comes to helping those attempting to navigate the murky waters of mental/behavioral health and addiction. The lived experience a Peer Specialist brings to the equation is so invaluable in so far as bridging the gap between compassionate clinical management and empathetic/sympathetic personal engagement. As a CPS, it still amazes me to this day when a Peer recognizes themself in me. That my experience is their experience. That my triumph can be their triumph. That my story can become their reason to go on, their reason for hope. It’s a truly a wonderfully remarkable thing.
The Aviary Recovery Center
To me, being a peer means giving back what was given to me. I went through treatment last year in February, and I was active in my recovery upon discharge. I had the privilege of being hired on as a CPS in training in June 2022, following almost 4 months of recovery. Since I’ve been a peer, I have had the opportunity to to speak to countless people who still struggle with mental health and addiction. I have also joined the National Peer Recovery Alliance which consists of other peers around Missouri and the United States to advocate for peers in the workplace, mentor and learn from peers who came before me, and assist with events and outreach. I have been a CPS since October of 2022, MAADC1 since November 2022 and I have recently been promoted to the Director of Environmental Services for The Aviary Recovery Center while still holding my credentials. I have been blessed with recovery and humbled to be able to give back. I will continue to be the best version of myself by simply taking suggestions and being honest either myself. I am honored to be a CPS!
I learned early in my recovery that we can only keep what we have by giving it away. I feel like working as a CPS gives me a chance to do that every day. I get to help others that are still in their active addiction while simultaneously helping myself in my own recovery. I get to use my past experiences and heart ache to teach and help others so that they may learn from my experiences and avoid finding themselves in some of the dark places that I found myself in. If they are already in that dark place, I can use my story to share with them what worked and what didn’t work for me in my journey to find the light in life again. I feel like being a CPS is very beneficial because our clients can tell we speak from our hearts. We truly can relate to where they are because we have been there ourselves. Becoming a CPS has filled a void I had inside myself for a long time. I now have a career where I don’t have to hide my past or feel ashamed of it. I can use it to help my fellow addict like those before helped me. We truly can recover and we can do it out in the light together!
I am also a Harm Reduction Specialist and what this means to me is Staying Alive no matter what!!
Being a peer to me means change, hope, inspiration and helping those in need move forward with motivation. Everyday as a peer has been impactful, the feeling of giving others hope is unexplainable.
Barry, Lawrence, Dade counties
Purpose from the pain.
To me being a peer is a great blessing in my life today. This truly means more to me than I could ever express through mere words. I am able to use my lived experience to help others in many stages of Substance Use Disorder and recovery process. By having the lived experience I am able to identify with the unseen feelings, thoughts, emotions, and characteristics of survival those still using or in whatever stage of recovery they are currently in. There are so many impactful moments that I have experienced in this journey of a new way of living. From the simple things of obtaining vital ID for peers, to helping them build resumes, to entering treatment, to obtaining their first legal job, to enrolling into college, to reunification with their families and children. There is nothing special that I actually do. I just walk beside my peer. Never in front of, or behind, only next too. The goal daily is to meet my peers where they are and don’t leave them there!!
Kennett Drug Court
Harry S Truman VA Medical Center (Department of Veterans Affairs)
I’m honored to share my lived experiences of recovery! At the Department of Veterans Affairs as a veteran myself I share my over 10 years of sobriety, once being a homeless veteran along with incarcerations now becoming a successful member of society! It’s a great honor to serve as the only peer specialist on the inpatient treatment team along with doing groups for veterans with SMI diagnosis’s and let ALL know recovery is possible!
The ROCC & ASCENT Recovery Residences
Being a peer support has been an important part of my recovery journey and my efforts to help others along the way. I thoroughly enjoy working with my clients – encourage them to be an active participant and self-driven in their recovery efforts. There’s a huge satisfaction in my job – something so deep-rooted and genuine. This is only the beginning of a wonderful adventure in helping others help themselves.
Stephanie "Stevie" G
When I can sit in a moment with an individual and say to them, “Me too.” that is where it really is. The power of the relatability is not only beautiful, but also where healing can start. No judgement. Ever. Just raw real hard feelings to work through. I love being a Certified Peer Specialist because I know the impact my peer had on me.
Being a peer to me means giving hope to those who thought there wasn’t hope left. It means shining bright enough that those still in the darkness can see their way out. It is being supportive and meeting people where they are no matter what that looks like. It’s showing people you care when they feel all alone.
As a peer support specialist I get to work with people who saw me daily in my own addiction. I have clients who I once drank with searching and seeking how to turn things around when they see me. I have assisted guys towards changing their lives and now are housed .I understand how hard it is to be dependent on substance to get through the day. My approach is mainly asking what prevents you from reaching any goals you have and help aid in developing a plan to address their substance through treatment, groups or church. I educate them on every aspect of what it takes to change. So it means alot to me being resilient trying to get someone where I am today and I love it
To me, being a peer is about sharing hope. Being able to work with people just like yourself and encourage them that change is possible and that they are not alone. Being a peer gives you the opportunity to share your story to help relate to those you are working with and then being there to support them in taking their first steps in their recovery journey. Being a peer gives me the opportunity to share my experience, strength, and hope while also helping the people I work with develop their own unique strengths and skills in their recovery. My most impactful moment working as a peer would have to be after I shared my story with my client after she had told me what she has been struggling with, she looked at me and said “I’m so glad I met you because it finally feels like I have someone who actually understands what I’m going through.”
Recovery Outreach Community Service
What does being a peer support mean? For me, it means a lot. As peer support, I want to spark that HOPE back into the peer that I am working with, so that they know there is a chance to recover. Having that relativeness means a lot to gain connections. As peer support, I can meet them where they are in their journey. I can help them create their own recovery plan and develop recovery pathways. Being a peer support allows the peer to know that they have someone they can trust and count on, as well as have someone that will not judge them, because as a peer I have been through similar situations. It allows me to work with people in the community and it also helps me sustain my recovery all at the same time.
Pierce City, MO
I am a firm believer that everything that’s meant to happen will happen. I remember dreaming about the day when my brain would no longer be handicap to my mental health symptoms, but never did I think I would end up in the field as an “expert by experience”. I grew up in the mental health care system, seeing my first therapist and receiving my first diagnosis at age 6. I knew even at a young age that I was different, I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant I just knew that my emotions were more increased than peer’s my age. It unfortunately took a suicide attempt to open my eyes to the severity of my suffering. It wasn’t until I was in a hospital bed, restrained that I had this epiphany. Many emotions ran through my head as I processed the attempt. I remember thinking to myself, seriously when is enough, enough? I am so tired of feeling this way, I have to make an active effort in recovery if I want to get better. I have to take care of my mental health like it’s my full time job. This became a positive factor in the progression of my recovery. As I recovered I developed empathy, especially for those around me suffering mental health symptoms. The first 2 years of my recovery were strictly centered around me, healing my inner child and giving myself the support and acceptance I deserved. I used the time to provide myself comfort and peace in adulthood that I had not been granted during my childhood. I never imagined that I would work in the mental health field, I had hoped and prayed some day I might graduate as a patient, not knowing what my future would hold. I began working in childcare, at the time this felt like my calling. I wanted to give children a positive learning experience, I wanted to show them healthy love, I wanted to empower them so they knew their worth. As my growth continued, I craved more and this is the part where I feel that the universe puts you exactly where you need at exactly the right time. I was told about a position at a local community mental health center who was currently seeking applicants for Peer Support Specialist. I had little to no knowledge about what this position was or meant but was called for an interview. At the time I knew I needed a life change, I was enduring a incredibly toxic work environment that began to take a toll on my mental health. So I decided to give it a shot, completely unsure and not confident this would be a good move for me, I had been with my preschool for about 4 years and anything out of my comfort zone seemed unbearable. However I soon learned that working as a Youth Peer was everthing and more I had longed for, it was made for me, there is no better match for my personality, heart and soul. It gave me purpose, it gave me hope, it gave me the opportunity to give back to a community that had poured so much love and support into me as a child. As a Youth Peer Specialist my main priority is to assist client’s in empowering and advocating for themselves, I understand the hardships of traumatic childhood’s and have made it my personal goal to be the person I needed when enduring vulnerable times as a kid. I am the first Youth Peer that my company has hired and I have so enjoyed being a stepping stone in bringing Youth Peer services to our Children’s Case Management Program. I am proud of the growth I’ve seen in 10 short months and can only imagine the strides we will see in years to come.
Criminal Justice Ministery (CJM)
One of the biggest benefits of being a peer support specialist is that I get to experience personal growth and healing through my work with others. The ability to share my story allows me to have a better understanding of my strengths, and my weaknesses and allows me the opportunity to improve and continue to grow.
Presently, I hold certifications in counseling, trauma-informed care, harm reduction, prevention and, I am trained in crisis intervention. My current work allows me to work with individuals who have experienced trauma and suffer from addiction on a regular basis, empowering them to regain control of their lives, exercise autonomy, and make the best choices for themselves.
University Health Behavioral Health
St. Louis, MO
I’m grateful to have an opportunity to be a peer support in the community that I did so much damage to. It means the world to me to be a peer support, giving back what was so freely given to me. I have had the privilege of watching someone who was so lost and broken with no hope for a future. Watching them do what was suggested of them to get into recovery, the struggles they went through to get to the life they now have. What a blessing it is to watch the light come back on inside of them and persevering against all odds. I’ve had the privilege to watch many people find their way into recovery and follow them through their journey!
I have been to the depths of hell and back again multiple times throughout my life. I have been given the chance to be able to give hope to someone lost in the darkness where they feel like there is no hope. That makes everything I went through worth it. Being a peer helps me be able to give hope to those who see no hope, show others that you can become anything you want to be, and do anything that you set your mind on. All the while helping them along the way to cheer you on and believe in someone when sometimes it seems impossible, especially in the beginning of recovery. Being a peer also helps my own recovery, I get to give back to my community and be able to honor of those who gave me hope when I was stuck in hopelessness. Thank you for the opportunity to share a little ray of sunshine into others’ lives who are just like me.