Even after five hours on the road from Kingston through Toronto to home my heart is still singing from the joy of the week I had training 18 mental health consumers to be peer supporters. That would have been enough…but then when I opened my computer to write this blog a piece of paper fell out with a special message and made my heart soar. (I am baffled about how she got the note in my computer.)
The face of mental health supports in the South East of Ontario is changing drastically and the the powers that be have finally figured out, after over 20 years of our proving over and over that Peer Support is a “Best Practice” in mental health and addiction, that it really is worth implementing. They have finally begun a reconstruction which holds peer support as foundational. The new organization which has sprung from this initiative is Peer Support South Eastern Ontario. They were formerly known as http://www.mhsn.ca/ but are now expanding their service with this first wave of hiring. It doubles their staff in one quick movement. (They just received their official charter for the new name today so it may take them a few days to get the web site turned around. If you are looking for it and can’t find it send me a message and I’ll track it down for you.)
This is wonderful news for peer support warms the tired hearts of those of us who have been carrying the banner for so long, trying to break down walls and open doors, so people would begin to embrace what we have known to be truth.
With all this good news came a training program for 18 people who were hired to begin to fill new roles for peer support within the region. The Ontario Peer Development Initiative (OPDI) training program is time tested and is the product of an evolution in training which has been taking place for over 20 years. It is good material and provokes good discussion, fun and learning in adults who want to share their mental health/addiction recovery journey to support others on the same road.
It was my great pleasure to spend about 50 hours with these 18 remarkable people this week. They come from many different walks of life, are different ages, and have their own unique stories but they came together to take a risk and blaze a new, uncharted trail for their fellow consumers. They bonded quickly and found purpose and strength in their new found friendships. They learned quickly and well and certainly kept myself and the other trainer on our toes all week with their questions and curiosity.
Training is hard work for everyone involved but their enthusiasm and gratitude for my work has reignited my own hope and confidence. They wrote me wonderful messages during our parting exercise and they gave me hugs and words of encouragement I will never forget.
Special Thanks the DA for these words which will find a special place on my wall. “Peggy – Thank you for your expertise in this field of learning. I have learned a lot that will stay with. You are an exceptional lady.” DA
WOW! Still catching my breath.