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Lincoln – Global Peer Support Celebration Day (GPSCD), Oct. 20, is a day for peer supporters from across the globe to reflect on and celebrate the important role they play in helping peers who are struggling with mental health, substance use and/or trauma-related challenges to move along the continuum of recovery. In addition, GPSCD increases public awareness of peer supporters, the services they provide, and how they impact the lives of those they serve.
“Peer support specialists are individuals who have lived experience with mental illness, substance use and/or co-occurring or trauma-related challenges and have completed training on assisting their peers seeking help. Peer support is a service with a range of approaches through which people with similar long-term conditions or health experiences support each other to better understand the conditions and aid recovery or self-management. They are a beacon of hope to those undertaking their own recovery journeys," said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health. “As those they help move toward, into, and beyond recovery, the peer supporter's first-hand knowledge and unique perspective empowers their peers to envision possibilities of a healthy and happy future."
This type of social support results in psychological and physical health benefits for both the receiver and provider. Peer support relies on a reciprocal relationship that fosters understanding and trust between peer supporters and their peers and among populations who otherwise have poor access to mental health and/or substance use disorder services. It complements and enhances other behavioral health services by creating the emotional and social support and practical assistance necessary for persons with mental health, substance use, and or trauma-related challenges to manage their disorders and stay healthy.
Research shows that peer supporters have a transformative effect on the peers they serve, other mental health providers (therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists), and the mental health systems that employ them. According to Mental Health America and Peers for Progress, peer support is a “critical and effective strategy" for ongoing physical, mental, and substance use disorder healthcare, and a proven approach for sustained behavior change for persons with these disorders, and for people with chronic diseases and other conditions. Furthermore, the benefits of peer support extend beyond individuals with these challenges by creating change, increasing awareness, and reducing stigma in neighborhoods, communities, organizations, systems, social groups, and other public gatherings and forums.
To date, the state of Nebraska currently has 187 Certified Peer Support Specialists (CPSSs). CPSSs are required to complete a 60-hour training approved by the Division of Behavioral Health. Nebraska wants to continue to grow the peer support workforce to help the recovery and inclusion of individuals with mental health and substance use into all communities.
For more information on becoming a Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS) in the state of Nebraska, please visit the Office of Consumer Affairs website at https://dhhs.ne.gov/CPPSGuidance.
Overall, research studies have found that peer support:
In recognition of Global Peer Support Celebration Day, the Division of Behavioral Health's Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) invites Nebraskans to participate in a virtual event to recognize and celebrate peer supporters and highlight the impact and contributions they make to supporting others in their recovery journey. If you would like to help celebrate the value of peer supporters, please visit the following link https://dhhs.ne.gov/GlobalPeerSupport to submit your personal message to recognize a peer supporter who has made an impact in your life, to share the value you find in being a provider of peer support, or to highlight the value of peer support service delivery. Submissions will be accepted through October 31st and will be displayed on DHHS social media sites.
Help is available. If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to: