I was on a panel discussing employing certified peer support specialists. It was at an event sponsored by the Milwaukee Mental Health Design Committee. It was a small gathering designed to encourage more organizations to hire and promote certified peer specialists. The group included supervisors, an executive director and me who was especially unique because I work at a mental hospital, in a targeted case management organization and a community support program. I told about the changes that are underway in the community support program which is moving to the assertive community treatment model, which is a team based approach.
I believe that the ACT model offers more opportunities for positive interactions with the clinicians and consumers. Our agency is one of five that will be implementing it this winter. It was presented to us as a way to increase satisfaction and improve staff retention. Burnout is a huge factor in case management, which is understand. We have people who have very difficult and challenging behaviors. People who don’t want case management, have challenging behaviors and have family members who may range from very helpful to persons you wish could be more understanding of the problems you face.
Resources in Milwaukee County are heavily slanted towards in-patient treatment and the people we are assisting often favor going to the hospital instead of responding to or seeking community based services. So I have this unique perspective of working in the hospital and the community based services. In addition, I am awaiting the beginning of my career as a student in a master’s degree program. I emphasized the need for peer specialists to to go college, as I did, in obtaining a 2 year degree in human services and also to consider becoming clinicians.
It was a surreal experience, as it began with my car conking out on me unexpectedly, having to get towed and taking a taxi to the event. But when I got home, I typed a message on facebook to a wonderful woman I have just recently begun dating. I told her about a study I seen recently talking about the dangers associated with men being under-kissed. It could actually shave years off our lives. The doctors encouraged us to seek help from professionals. Luckily, I received a response in a few hours that she was seeking a patient with just such a problem. Skyrockets in flight.