Newsroom > DHHS News Release

August 18, 2009

Jeanne Atkinson, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-8287


DHHS Schedules Town Hall Meeting on Peer Support and the Native American Community

Lincoln – A September 2 town hall meeting will focus on getting ideas and suggestions on creating and growing peer support for people with mental illness in the Native American community. The meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponca Tribe Center, Fred LeRoy Health and Wellness Clinic, at 2602 “J” Street in Omaha.

“Peer support is a service provided by someone living in recovery with mental illness or addiction,” said Carol Coussons de Reyes, administrator of the Office of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services. A peer has ‘been there, done that’ and can relate to others who are now in a similar situation.”

Having a peer who is familiar with a Native person’s culture would enhance the service of peer support. Even the word “mental illness” may not be meaningful to someone from a Native American culture; it is important to discuss the right language for each individual. Additionally, there may be existing structures similar to peer support already in the Native American community that other peers could learn about.

The meetings are an opportunity to find out what people from the Native American community have to say about this popular new workforce and how to expand Nebraska’s existing peer support workforce.

Guest speakers, who will share their perspective on peer support and networking and listen to ideas and suggestions from participants, are: Charles B. Willis, Certified Peer Specialist of the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network; Heather Peck of Vocal Virginia; and Stuart Perry, Certified Peer Specialist who operates the Perry Wellness Center in rural Americus, Georgia.

Other town hall meetings are planned. All meetings run from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. local time:

August 31st, 2009 – Lincoln: Bennett Martin Public Library (14th & N)
September 1st, 2009 – Omaha: Omaha Public Library, 4th Floor (15th & Douglas)
September 2nd, 2009 – Omaha: Ponca Tribe Center, Fred LeRoy Health and Wellness Center (2602 “J” Street)
September 3rd, 2009 – Norfolk: Lifelong Learning Center (801 E. Benjamin Ave.)
September 4th, 2009 – Hastings: Hastings Public Library (517 West 4th St.)
September 15th, 2009 – Scottsbluff: Hampton Inn Conference Center (301 W. Hwy 26)
September 16th, 2009 – North Platte: Hampton Inn (200 Platte Oasis Parkway)

For more information, call Dan Powers or Carol Coussons de Reyes at (800) 836-7660.