The message below comes from DBSA National Headquarters:
As a Veteran of the Air Force, Nick has always desired to work with Veterans facing some of life’s most difficult situations, much like he has. Now he does this daily, working as a Veteran Peer Specialist. DBSA’s Pilot Peer Apprentice Program had its first success story on September 26, 2022, when Nick began working as a Peer in a Chicago area VA Hospital.
Nick was one of the first individuals invited to participate in this year-long internship. As a peer support specialist apprentice, he was introduced to DBSA’s Compassionate Language Guide to discuss the experience of living with a mood disorder. A language that fosters acceptance of the past while looking toward a hope-filled future. DBSA’s Peer Specialist Course provided Nick and his fellow apprentices with training to help others as they move through their own recovery. In addition, as an apprentice, he received training on WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) and WHAM (Whole Health Action Management). Following the educational programming, Nick transitioned to an internship at a Chicago-based behavioral health community center. There he worked as a peer support specialist, using his newly developed skills.
As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and begin to address the mounting mental health crisis, peer support is taking center stage as a critical component of mental healthcare.
For those who desire to take another step toward being a beacon of hope and support, you may wish to learn more about becoming a peer support specialist. This unique role can be found in both volunteer and paid positions. Taking a peer support specialist course does not guarantee employment. Still, it can be a powerful way to learn tools to support yourself and those for whom you care.
Peer support specialists are individuals on a journey of healing and recovery for themselves and their communities. They are community members who use their experiences of trauma and mental wellness as a tool and resource to inspire hope and encouragement for others on their healing journey.