Peer support: the missing link

I read the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division crisis services manual yesterday at work. The manual drafted last year a couple of sentences about the importance of peer support in targeted case management. However the manual lacks clarity in explaining how we will be better able to link consumers to community services than we did previously using a strictly clinical approach.

I expressed my concerns with a supervisor today who explained that part of the reason that the manual left a lot of areas vague was to give programs greater flexibility in how to use peer specialists. Also it seems that we have a wide range of skill sets and interests. I have a fairly broad range of interests although not everything is easy to measure. For example I am interested in motivating African-American men and that shows in my approaches with them. This may include going to the library, talking about particular topics and raising questions when the team is discussing African American men I have been assisting.

I worry that younger men may be left behind through sheer laziness or killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or killed by the police in one of their so-called stop and frisk you for having dark skin games.

I squirm in my seat when BHD lags behind in including discussions of peer roles in its training.  Fortunately in our discussions at work we do talk about the team and bringing issues to all of us about what we are finding in our work. I am able to have my input and we cooperate with one another much more readily now that our roles have been more clearly defined. I hope that the experiences we are having in the field will be reflected in next year’s BHD training. Much better than having two dozen peer specialists squirming in an auditorium.



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