Three weeks ago, I was given the privilege of interviewing for a Recovery Support Worker position with Niagara Region Mental Health. This was an amazing experience that came about because of the wonderful people I have come in contact with because of my books and talks I do around St Catharines and the Niagara region. These wonder full people in no order helped with letters of recommendation, personal support and so much more, Kristie Robertson, Katie Cino, Susan Mifsud, Karen Robson, Samantha Green, Liz Chamberlain, Vicky Rudachuk Macdougall and Sherri Patrick my strongest backer and support.
All though I did not get this job, I am very happy with the fact that I was given the opportunity to be looked at for such a position. It is very important that institutes and originations are realizing that people with lived experience can be a key factor in the recovery and treatment of mental illness. Having someone whom the patient can relate to and has gone through the treatment plans, has done the hard work it takes to change their lives is so important.
Having someone who can listen, be there when needed, and build a bound with them as they progress and learn to live their lives, use their new tools and better them self’s even if it is one day at a time is something that money can not buy. I strongly believe that every hospital/ treatment center/ organization, needs to have Peer Support Workers on there staff, working with there clients to motivate, share successes, inspire hard work, celebrate all the triumphs and motivate to work towards new goals, this has to be a main stay.
Not only that but become a bridge between the doctor/ therapist / treatment team to better help them understand the needs of the people they are wanting to help. Sometimes people just don’t know how to talk to there doctor, but will talk openly to someone who is on ground level with them.
With all that is going on in the world with mental health, all the money being raised, all the promotions that happen through out the year we need to look at how we can help people long term.
When they leave the office/ hospital or treatment center. We have to come to the realization that treating mental health is not like treating any other illness, It’s something completely different.
I feel that a full recovery has to be built with human interaction with people who have been there and lived it and are now wanting to help those in need, People who are not only surviving but thriving despite there struggles.
Let me tell you that being on the other side of struggling with depression and anxiety is an experience that I can not put into words at times. The freedom to be happy, to love life, do things I love with out guilt is something that no money could ever buy. Embracing the tools I was given and turning them into away of life is like winning the lottery. Feeling this way at the age of 46 is so incredible. When I see other people who are struggling especially youth, I just want to help them, and hopefully inspire them to work hard and reach the place I am at now. Being that person for someone who is struggling is truly a game changer in their recovery and yours.
5 years ago, if you would have told me I would be interviewing for this position I would have never believed you, But I did and I made it right to the end. I am not afraid to say I am very proud of myself. This was an opportunity that was given to me by very special people, helpfully, caring people who see the impact that a Peer Support Worker can have on an individual who is struggling with a mental illness. And saw that I was capable of doing this job.
Now that I know that there are opportunities out there I am going to hunt them down and hopefully land this job one day. But in the mean time I will still be here at ground level reaching people who need the help, helping break the stigma, changing the way people view and treat mental illness.
Sometimes opportunities in life happen at strange times, but when opportunity knocks always answer, it may be the right time for you to make a change!
“Only with open conversation can we break the stigma behind depression, let’s start talking and do it together!”