My Feet Hurt – But it’s Worth It

feetWhen I do training I tend to stand a lot and on the first day vanity wins over sensibility (heels vs. flat shoes).  That’s why my feet hurt.

I’m doing training again for OPDI this week and while it is very different group from the one I trained three weeks ago they are group with equal enthusiasm for the work of Peer Support.  The difference perhaps is that this group are going to have to work a little harder to make inroads with Peer Support in their communities.  The powers that be in their areas have not seen fit to make Peer Support a priority for funding.

We talked about that today for a while.  How after almost 20 years of proving over and over again the “best practice” is still not recognized.  Other best practices take about 10 years from proof to practice but this one has taken much longer.

Why?  I have some thoughts.

The mental health system is the lowest on the totem pole of medical funding.  It lacks the glamour and passion that are given to things like breast cancer and diabetes.  It is rather that “thing we would just rather not talk about”.  The psychiatric doctors are even on the bottom of the medical pecking order and lack respect among their peers.  What they do is not respected because after all, “If those people would just pull up their socks and decide to get better they wouldn’t have any problems.”

Yes stigma around mental health and addiction issues still exists.  People who live with these issues also lack the advocacy support of families.  Often the very nature of their illness ostracizes those who love them and the social attitude is one which says people with these “illnesses” have a choice.

I can’t imagine that if someone who hears voices, or feels useless and suicidal or someone who is drug dependent or can’t get out of bed without taking a drink actually wants that to be their reality.  They have options to seek treatment just like someone who is living with cancer does but unlike that cancer patient they are not living in a society which supports them in seeking that help.  They also live in a reality where the services for their issues are underfunded and in many cases nonexistent.  It can take months to get a psychiatrist or a clinician.  Someone seeking treatment for addiction could die before a treatment bed becomes available.  The help they need lacks political will and societal acceptance.

Enter Peer Support.  These are the folks who know what it’s like to live with a mental health or addiction issue.  They have patience, understanding and compassion for their peers.  They believe their is hope.  They know how to find it because they have done so in their own lives.  They know that if someone comes along side to support and helps you hang on long enough you can begin to find your way through the maze of treatments, pharmaceuticals, services and roadblocks.

Peer supporters also understand things like poverty which often accompany these issues.  They know how to survive on $600 a month from welfare.  They know the resources for the needs of the whole person.

So this is why my feet hurt.  I stood in front of 19 mental health consumers for a great part of the day and shared my knowledge and belief in peer support.  I don’t want them to have sore feet but I sure hope they catch some of my passion.


About Peggy Guiler

You just never know what show up on my blog. As the name implies it is about the stuff of life just like Spilt Milk. Everyday events spark thought and contemplation. Special events in the community, the country or the world may strike a cord and get me talking. Sometimes it's about people in my life or circumstances, sometimes about my garden, sometimes about a book or a political issue. Always it's about something I am passionate about. In my business, River of Hope Enterprises (, I work as an "Certified Coach" (International Coach Federation), a trainer, consultant and speaker. and as a spiritual director. I also drive a school bus to keep the wolf from the door while I build my business. I love the kids on the bus (most of the time). My family is grown and I have three grandkids who thrill my heart but I don't get to see any of them very often. Circumstances of life have made "family" difficult. My son died by suicide at age 16 in 2000 and the strain on our family relationships since has been huge. Mental health is a field where I worked for almost 22 years and where I still do some consulting and training. That combined with my own battle with depression and my son's death weave together to form some of my greatest soap box items: suicide intervention, suicide bereavement and peer support in mental health are right on the top of my list. Social justice is an underlying passion. Keeping the wolf from the door as a single parent was full-time work and my career path as a journalists was augmented with cleaning contracts, cooking, retail clerk, and bartending. I have known hard work and am grateful for the experience and perspective it has given me. A firmly grounded faith and a passion for learning has now taken me toward a new field as a Spiritual Director and I am soon adding to that a license to marry people. As I move toward retirement I am very aware that I have to keep working so I chose to do things which will meet my modest financial needs and also my love of supporting people in their life journey. Woven into all of this is my love of writing. Trained as a Journalist, and having worked in the field as a freelance news writer for many years, I have a great love for writing. This blog is a new beginning for me. As I hone my skills and begin to form a daily discipline of writing I hope it will lead to more writing in the future.
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