Peer Support an afterthought at conference

I read a slideshow that was presented at the crisis conference I attended in Wisconsin Dells about utilizing peer staff in mental health and addiction treatment. The presenter was Dr. David Loveland, a Ph.D. who is the Director Research at the Human Service Center in Peoria, Illinois. It presented different scenarios for helping people to work through decision making. In addition, there was a presentation by Alice Jablonski about Embracing Recovery During a Crisis. Jablonski i a Certified Peer Specialist and I am not certain whether Dr. Loveland knows anything about peer support. There was a presentation about Milwaukee County and the care for people with developmental disabilities. Peer specialists are now a part of the treatment team. But when you consider how long peer specialists have been utilized in Wisconsin, it seemed like we were getting short shrift. Especially since there were several peer specialists present.

This was the 17th crisis conference and there were peer specialists on the planning committee, including Ms. Jablonski. My suggestion for next year would be to broaden the focus in presentations beyond the work of the clinicians. Hello, we are here. Peer support is a little like Black History. It doesn’t take place only in training specifically about peer support As we plan the transformation of Milwaukee County’s mental health system from one that is criticized for relying too  heavily on emergency services, what can peer support do in the community and in crisis to connect with people? How will peer run respite centers be a part of the mix? Apparently, Wisconsin has accepted the idea of peer run respite, because they were included in the state budget. What is the model for peer services? How are peers used in places such as the Crisis Resource Center and the other alternatives to the Mental Health Complex? Certainly, there has been enough data collected to make this a topic worth of a workshop.

As workers in crisis and non crisis mental health, we deserve to see our reality reflected in places such as these annual crisis conferences. By people who who about peer support and are certified specialists.


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