The Backwards Brain Bicycle

Our Legal System

I attended the 38th Legislative Breakfast on Mental Health that Steve and Julie Bailey, from Josh’s Hope Foundation (and numerous others), put on each year at the Friday Center.  I must say I like the Friday Center.  This year’s event had a criminal justice reform focus, including a talk from the NC Division of Adult Corrections Commissioner W. David Guice. In the course of the morning I heard some great quotes and my favorite was from Rep. Graig Meyer. He is a Licensed Social Worker and has a daughter who has struggled with mental health diagnoses and he now represents NCGA House District 50 (Orange/Durham).  At one point, he said, as he walked us through an honest snapshot of what we are dealing with these days, “We need to understand the difference between those we are angry at and those we are afraid of.”

If you don’t quite understand what that means allow me to back up a bit.

Way back, my sponsor and grand-sponsor took meetings into Jackson Prison, to one of the felony pods, and for a while I went with them.  Do you know of Jackson Prison, about an hour outside of Detroit?  It’s the largest walled prison on Earth.
You’d think Russia or some other place would hold that record but no, it’s Michigan.  Angola prison in Louisiana is bigger, maybe, but they are not fully walled, Angola’s surrounded on some sides by swamps no one can escape.  If you run through those swamps the gators get ya. Getting back to Jackson, it was evident these were great meetings.  Honest authentic meetings from a group of prisoners who were telling it “raw”, as they say. But what really blew my mind; after a while I realized most of these guys were never getting out, they were here for life. Some were in for murder, plus, Michigan has three-strikes-you’re-out, what they call habitual offender laws. Three felonies and you’re in prison for life, no chance of parole. North Carolina has them also.  We’ll come back to that topic. The point is, these convicts had no reason to go to meetings except; they were in recovery.  There was no favor or early release or parole release they could work their way toward through good behavior. No reward except the purely spiritual.  Inner growth. That’s when it really sank in how good these meetings were, maybe the best meetings I have ever been to.

I like to say that recovery is a real thing, ’cause it is. People ask, “What does that mean?” and it is a bit of a problem to convey because it has an experiential transformative quality to it. What the early Christians we call Gnostics talked about. This example, this story, is an attempt to convey the reality of lived experience. To be authentic with no earthly reward, that is recovery.

I’m circling back to the Meyer quote but the real trigger for all this was; last week I heard a prisoner, in prison for life, give an open talk at a 12 Step meeting, OUT IN THE COMMUNITY. In the early 90’s, in a drunken black-out he had shot and killed a family member.  Native by birth, his childhood traumatic, he had seen much violence in his life. Introduced to recovery in prison, his recovery has progressed, he’s so rehabilitated, that he resides in minimum security and they allowed him to attend and speak at a meeting.  He was honest, real, and humble.

Recently, I linked to a flyer about an annual NC Alcoholics Anonymous conference on bringing AA into prisons. Some prisons in NC have developed such a good relationship with AA they allow sponsors to come and take prisoners to meetings.  THAT is recovery, both for the prison system and the individual.

Three-strikes-you’re -out: the thing about the habitual offender law; it doesn’t work.

  1. There are all sorts of offenses that are classified felonies, including non-violent, that don’t warrant life in prison and
  2. for true bad guys it is not an effective deterrent and
  3. States (like California) that had it and threw it out are glad it’s gone!  Their crime rates did NOT go up and they are saving millions of dollars. Three strike laws are ineffective at reducing overall crime rates and are responsible for crowding prisons. It was bad policy, bad lawmaking-originating out of the Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York era-and has been thoroughly discredited.

Btw, it’s been studied and it’s clear the same can be said for capital punishment. Believe it or not, the death sentence is not a deterrent.  If you want to better understand these issues, go see Sister Helen Prejean when she comes to speak.  Remember the movie, ‘Dead Man Walking’?  That lady.  She not only has a great personal story but this unassuming jailhouse nun paints a devastating picture of how out-of-whack and unbalanced our legal/prison system is.  Compelling cogent talks!  She’s speaking on April 14, from 12-1pm, in Room 5042 at the College of Law, UNC-CH and it is open to the public. In May I believe she comes back to receive an Honorary Degree.

Now-murder/manslaughter is profoundly serious business.  I sure-as-hell don’t take it lightly.  Grace of God I didn’t kill someone driving drunk, but the simple fact is recovery/redemption is for EVERYONE!  No one is excluded. Redemption does not mean religion; it means transformation from and through pain to restoration. From hell on earth to a chance at life.  So, back to the quote. There are some criminals we are afraid of, as a society and that’s ok.  Most of those addicted are not the ones we are afraid of, they are the ones we are mad at, and that’s ok.  It’s ok to for us be human and have feelings when we watch those around us, some we even love, kill themselves, sometimes quickly sometimes slowly, with drugs. The Recovery Community movement is not about making feelings “wrong”, it’s about framing those feelings within a broader landscape to give us perspective. Said perspective always leads us to hope and faith because recovery is a real thing.  We can be mad at them and still love them. They can engage in bad behavior and we can still comprehend they have a disease. The disease does not excuse bad behavior; it keeps us focused on the vision. The vision ahead-of recovery. That real thing up ahead we are moving toward.

I’d like to close with this story from a recent 60 Minutes episode. Their lead story, on prison reform in America, compares German prisons to ours and had some interesting perspective.

Part 2: many, many others

A core aspect of this vision, that I believe can be applied to systems as much as individuals, is that recovery, as an organizing paradigm, is about Restoration and Transformation. Allow me to expand this topic, with assistance from a favorite spiritual teacher, Richard Rohr.

In our duality-driven, either/or, win/lose, scarcity-not-abundance, retribution NOT restoration mind-set (My God, have you listened to these political campaigns?) we lack true recovery. Retribution appeals to the ego, Grace/transformation/recovery appeals to the soul. I’m not saying the ego is “bad”. In a healthy, actualized world, we all still have an ego, but unchecked ego is pure self-will and leads to grandiosity and always leave us unfulfilled. The biggest rock band in the world’s biggest # 1 hit was “I can’t get no satisfaction.” The anthem of our time.

Healing = movement toward wholeness and vice-versa. Ultimately, recovery always includes Grace – and Grace always brings abundance, not scarcity. A saying you hear around 12-Step is, “Religion is for those wanting to get into heaven and recovery is for those who’ve already been to hell.” This is not remotely anti-religion, just a way to lovingly portray the truth of transformation. Love is not there if and when I change, Love is there so I can change! Anybody can change given the chance. “No addict seeking recovery need ever die!” is a fact. Believe it. I’m living proof – and many, many others are too.

Recovery illuminates meaning for our human suffering, it shows us what to do with our pain, with the absurd, tragic and nonsensical injustice we see in the world. We transform and transmute our pain, so we do not transmit it. The “blessings” of all become evident and our wounds become sacred. Our wounds are sacred. All of life is sacred. This brings hope, purpose and direction. Our hurts become home to our greatest hopes. This renewed and implanted hope washes away the cynicism, bitterness, many -not necessarily all- resentments and nihilism. The soul cannot live without purpose and meaning, but shines with it. Science itself affirms and reports that everything in the universe is deeply connected. There is no such thing in the whole universe as autonomy. It doesn’t exist. Our cultural indoctrination that promotes this illusion of separation, coupled with a lack of soul purpose, supplies the nutrients that feed the very roots of the rampant rates of loneliness, addiction, depression and suicide we see.

All of this demands we change (and change is the word that most represents recovery). It’s easy to be cynical in this world. The transformation of recovery and release from cynicism compels and demands action, advocacy and activism. We live happily while advocating for change. Individual advancement is incomplete without the social connection that activist change brings about. Think globally, act locally.

As we see the whole, we create “wholeness”. Mistakes make sense and are used in our favor. Life is a school and mistakes become our supreme teachers. Hope compels us forward even into Mystery. Honest Abe Lincoln said something like, “The winner feels good, but the loser is smarter.” People who have the gifts of faith, hope and love are indestructible. In the beginning this process is scary. Powerlessness, vulnerability and surrender are SCARY! Surrender goes against everything our culture teaches. All of this demands we detach and observe and change our own thinking which certainly demands humility. Taught by the dark, we only need enough light to be able to trust the darkness. A little bit of humble courage and I do not need to be absolutely certain before I take the next right step.

REMBA

REMBA stands for Rehabilitation of Ethnic Minorities with Behavioral Addictions, their 10th annual conference at NC A&T April 14-15. Hosted by the Department of Human Development and Services at North Carolina A & T State University, the focus this year is Women, Trauma and Recovery and I am honored to be presenting, focusing on my treatment work experience and how the shift to a Recovery Oriented System of Care will benefit all.

“The REMBA Conference attracts rehabilitation counselors, community counselors, school counselors, counselor educators and supervisors, social workers, psychologists, administrators, students, and others interested in learning more about the impact of addictions and trauma in underrepresented communities. CEU, CRC, and Category B (NC Psychologists) credits will be offered.”

Here’s the link for registration

For me, the honor of being included is about the history of NCA & T and Historically Black Schools and Universities (HBCUs), particularly in North Carolina. My own snapshot of civil rights, seen through the lens of living in Detroit, what I saw and experienced growing up, coupled with study since moving here, has driven home the fact that North Carolina was a home of the Civil Rights movement and HCBU’s were instrumental in leading the way. And let’s be clear; the African-American (and LGBTQ and women and disabled peoples and native peoples and other) movements, to grow civil rights, benefit all peoples here in America, so their history is my history is our history. And let’s not forget that NCA&T has a growing Collegiate Recovery Program, which grows civil rights for those dealing with substance use disorder.

Wikipedia says, “There are 107 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States, including public and private institutions, community and four-year institutions, medical and law schools.”

North Carolina has eleven historically black colleges and universities, including the oldest in the South, Raleigh’s Shaw University, founded in 1865, and North Carolina’s newest HBCU, Durham’s  North Carolina Central University, founded in 1910 and today one of the sixteen senior institutions in the University of North Carolina system.

So sign-up, check it out and Say Hi!

NC Recovery Advocacy Alliance Summit

NCRAASBy the second day, my neurons were pinging at such a rapid rate I (kind of) blew my intro on the Governor’s Institute. I wanted a do-over. Ever have that happen, ever want a do-over? Let me step back a minute and fill you in. Tom Edwards, Outreach Coordinator for Pavillon, a leading Western-NC treatment center in Mill Spring, is a friend, a BFAM. He put a Summit together down in Florida (2013 CORE Conference) and wanted to recreate it here. It was an attempt to bring groups together, to breach divides between the various components of our SUD system and to create synergy and solutions. For example, Physician Health Programs (PHP) – professional monitoring organizations (doctors, dentists, in some states multiple professions) – have a set standard of care for doctors with substance use issues, including responses if a person is reported and in legal trouble. This standard of care can include mandatory urine analysis for illegal drug usage monitoring (UA).

In the budding Collegiate & Recovery Community world, the movement is in the opposite direction, away from mandating and toward person-centered, self-directed choices. This is an example of an apparent clash when in fact, both sides can appreciate the others position because we humans have much more in common than not. The fact is that PHPs are the gold standard of care for SUD as it is a 5-year model, among other reasons. So Tom planned and put together a summit bringing various groups to review, discuss and create action plans to take the state’s Recovery Oriented System of Care up some notches. He got buy-in and support from his Clinical Director, Brain Coon, and Medical Director, Dr. Roy E. Smith, Board Certified in Addiction Medicine & Family Medicine. They got investment from other centers like Fellowship Hall, Red Oak Recovery Center, Magnolia Landing, C4Recovery and my own Governor’s I to cover expenses. We met for two days at a hotel conference room in Greensboro. So, as far as “pinging”, allow me to offer some perspective.

Astrologers tell me that I have 5 fire signs in my chart. Are you familiar with the elements? Ether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth? For eons, all over the globe, virtually all Native tribes study and work within the elements, as they run through us and the world. Each element has a “purpose” and each of us tends to be strong in one though they all come into play. Ether is Intention, initial form/space. The Mystics say there is an actual Etheric Plane, influenced by all thought, where all creation for/on our Earth begins. We think and it forms on that Plane first, like a blueprint. Air is Formation, where those thoughts take on some form of harmony in moving to the material plane. Fire is Impulse/movement/heat/intensity. Did I mention I have 5 of those? Water supports Completion and intuition. Earth is History written. Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are the three fire signs in the astrology chart. Fire is the engine that gets things going, though it’s not great at follow-through – hence Water supporting completion. Fire creates a lot of “heat”. One way I would characterize my recovery is bringing balance to my Fire.

As a Sagittarius and an Enneagram type 8, I’m gifted with a bit of capacity for vision and a desire to make a difference. BUT, as an Adult Child of Alcoholic-co-dependent (ACOA) I have a compulsion to save/rescue my “family”, wherever. There’s a magnificent saying, “Do the right thing, for the right reason”. The second part of that sentence is key. “Why am I pushing for this (seemingly) good thing”? If I am motivated by my unconscious need to rescue my “family”, it creates issues/problems. As I do my work, over the years, I get healing and my relationship to my ACOA etc. changes and does not have sway (usually) upon my actions. However, last week I found myself in a room full of people wanting to work together (hearing each other), people who understand recovery and want to make a difference (i.e. a “loving family”), people asking me what I want (and actually present to hear). So throw in too much caffeine and some morning sugar (which I usually avoid), too much work and not enough recreation and you have a recipe for a bit of “tweak”. During my post-event inventory, I felt this and instead of second-guessing myself, I just wanted to get honest. The Summit was so exciting to be in that when it was my turn to plug Governor’s Institute, I found myself tripping over my own words.

The Summit included Recovery Allies and Champions, Collegiate Recovery (including superb experience from Texas and Minnesota), University Counselors, Graduate Professors, the aforementioned professional monitoring organizations, Drug Court reps, Advocates, Division of MH/SUS/I-DD people, a Harvard researcher, MD’s, lawyers with a stake in advocacy, Peer Support Specialists, lots of lived experience and more I’m forgetting. It was inspiring.

A take-away from the Florida conference is that advocacy alliances (real working relationships) should be built at the local and state level. Benefits I saw from the Summit included:

  • Developing relationships toward collaboration across systems after the summit
  • Shape the direction of collaborative work and future Summits
  • Increase advocacy in your work and across the field, best supporting those we serve
  • Improve awareness of the philosophies, programs and practices in these allied systems, and benefit from educational efforts and resources

The summit planners submitted questions and topics to learned friends who could not attend, to answer and discuss. Here’s a link to questions Bill White answered.

In the interest of keeping this shorter, I’d like to expand on this, from the personal to the macro, in my next newsletter. A core aspect of this vision, recovery as an organizing paradigm, can be applied to systems as much as individuals. ‘Til then: Keep Summiting out there!

Radio, Radio

I got to know Eddie LeShure while working in the Asheville area. He’s a man in long-term recovery, a drug counselor and a yoga teacher, integrating holistic wellness work into drug treatment. That is not only needed but the wave of the future. His background and heart intersect with mine in multiple ways and give me that brother-from-another-mother (BFAM) feeling that recovery brings. He also has a radio show, with his life & work partner, Margaret Kirschner. The show is on WPVM 103.7 Mondays @ 7pm and I have been invited on to talk about all things recovery April 11th, 7pm! What a blast, I grew up on great radio, volunteered at a college station back in the day, am still devoted to commercial-free radio and expect it to have a renaissance soon. There was a time radio meant something. Let’s bring it back! So listen in if you’re out west, or online at wpvmfm.org. Before you do that, check out this excellent interview Eddie gave.

My April 11th WPVM interview in Asheville, precedes, by one week, the Addiction Professionals of North Carolina (APNC) Spring conference, also in Asheville, where I’ll be presenting on Recovery Messaging with able support from my Special Guest Richie Tannerhill, Peer and Family Support Specialist at Smoky Mountain Center LME/MCO, on the multiple aspects of creating Recovery Community. With Richie in tow, we’re going to blow the roof off the sucka, to coin an admittedly ancient disco phrase. APNC’s conference is April 20-22, say Hi if you’re there!

Peer Support

peertopeerWhen I moved to North Carolina some 6 years ago I was searching for a way to plug into the substance use disorder/behavioral healthcare world, while toiling away on certification reciprocity and soon chose Peer Support Certification as a starting point. The training was offered for free, by a managed care organization (MCO) and has appeared to be the wave of the future. For years, friends who owned out-patients had been championing Peer Support as a great tool and that influence made me glad to get the insights from the training and crew of people. It was taught by a guy with a heck of a story, Antonio Lambert, who proved to be a mentor.

More importantly, it plugged me in to the certifying agency, based within UNC-CH’s School of Social Work, the Behavioral Healthcare Resource Program (BHRP). Later I realized Peer Support had some key DHHS-DIV. of MH/DD/SAS support, who were championing the full vision of a more effective Recovery Oriented System of Care (ROSC).

Peer Support is a doorway into the whole Recovery Community snapshot, an essential component, a key linchpin. Building an effective, efficient system of care to increase outcomes with substance use disorder means honoring the truth of “lived experience.”  “Nothing about us without us”, as the saying goes.  Which is, by the way, a core tenet of NC’s public/not-for-profit LME/MCO model we use here for the disbursement of Medicaid behavioral health dollars. It’s written in their contracts with the state that they must have “lived experience” input into their provider network and capitation decisions.  For MCO’s that doorway begins with Consumer and Family Advisory Committees (CFAC). It is odd, in a way, that we have to write about it, the concept; “If I have been there, experienced addiction/recovery, then I can be a support for you, on your journey into recovery”.  “Been there” includes the experience of families dealing with other’s SUD/mental health issues.

Before I continue, let me point out that Peer Support is being successfully used in numerous venues, including the medical world. Cancer survivors are supporting those with new diagnoses. Providing support to listen/process feelings, to help them know that they are not alone, to share aspects of navigating the system, to shine a light on the road ahead whatever the path.  In fact, as NC CANSO’s Laurie Coker writes, “Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center will soon begin an initiative using Peers to educate clinicians about how to support recovery and about the role of peers in healthcare systems.” Peer Supports are motivators, allies, truth-tellers, tour guides, advocates, coaches.

Another world investing in Peer Support is our US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). The Peer Support Training Council (PSTC), in rewriting our training manual, added a “specialization” for Military Service Member, both active or retired, to support this growth in Peer Support for our vets. This “Veteran” designation comes after completing a newly created 8-hour online training as part of the 20-hour requirement (see application requirements here). This online training is slated to begin by 7/1/2016.

Wikipedia states that, “A peer recovery support specialist (P-RSS) is an occupational title of trained individuals who engage with peers in a community-based recovery center, or outside it around any number of activities, or over the telephone as well. There are many tasks performed by peer support specialists that may include assisting their peers in articulating their goals for recovery, learning and practicing new skills, helping them monitor their progress, assisting them in their treatment, modeling effective coping techniques and self-help strategies based on the specialist’s own recovery experience, and supporting them in advocating for themselves to obtain effective services.”

This rings true and is all in the interest of removing barriers between those seeking help, those hurting and sustained recovery, which is a real thing. Recovery is a real thing.

More why’s and wherefores are worth looking at but it helps to start with some historical background.

As I read and check historical sources and facts I am motivated to remind us that the concept of one human, with experience, helping another, is as old as, well… humans. This is a more tribal outlook that we lost along the way and working Peer Support into behavioral health care and medical care is a necessary step in our healing. A central component in this shift toward ROSC is characterized by the personal recovery plan (PRP). What evolved in this country since WW2 was an acute care model toward substance use. An “expert” wrote a treatment plan that tells a client what he is supposed to do. When the client “relapsed” he was labeled “non-compliant”. Now it’s all about us participating in our own recovery, if you get my drift. Self-determination is the fact, truth, grace and beauty of recovery. We must participate in our own recovery. This newer paradigm, Recovery Community supporting an ROSC, begins with a PRP (or person-centered plan) drawn up by the individual looking for support and reviewed with a Peer Support Specialist (PSS). Individuals, supported by PSS, writing their Recovery plans. The ability to grow buy-in from the client is apparent at that point.

Here’s a link to a well-researched and annotated study of Peer Support history, from our favorite SUD historian, William White, which begins:
The History and Future of Peer-based Addiction Recovery Support Services (Executive Summary)
William L. White, MA History
“Within the addictions arena, there is a long and rich history of recovery mutual aid societies, peer-based recovery support groups, and the use of recovered/recovering people in paid service roles from which lessons can be drawn.”
But first I want to start with this transcript of a teleconference call outlining some history of Peer Support, especially mental health peer support, led by:

“Joseph Rogers, executive director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse – the sponsor of these monthly national networking teleconferences – began with a presentation on peer workers/peer specialists/people who work as peers, both in Pennsylvania and around the country.   Joseph said,  “I understand that some people don’t like the terms ‘peer’ or ‘peer specialist,’ but that’s what the states are calling people who are working in such positions, particularly those who receive Medicaid reimbursement to work in self-help/mutual support activities.”

We’ll come back to Medicaid and the payment of Peer Supports but my posting of this transcript is because mental health (MH) advocates are really the ones who got all this going. In my gut, from my experience I do feel and believe, as ‘The Anonymous People’ states,“There is nothing that impacts American life more than addiction.” AND I do have to champion all the mental health advocates who led the way into not just advocacy for mental health rights and services but the creation of contemporary Peer Support. That is the snapshot over the past few years that I have seen. Those out there suffering from mental illness diagnosis were taking charge of their recovery, becoming informed, getting support and treatment, and organizing as a group. They led the way into full-on advocacy and this was instrumental to the momentum now in place. I am proud of them and the work they have done and intend to do an article later this year with leaders of the MH advocacy world based in NC.

Back to our history; the first state that organized and got funding through Medicaid for peer-to-peer activities was Georgia. They are the ones who came up with the term “peer specialists.”  This is an important “rub”.  In NC, Medicaid pays for Peer Support services but most people who suffer from SUD aren’t on Medicaid, particularly in this state.  One barrier we need to remove directly, one line-item we really need to add to the budget in an efficient, well-designed ROSC, is a payment stream for Peer Support that is comprehensive.  While we’re at it lets add Recovery Coaches to the same line item.  There are multiple locations we can place these workers; For example, hospital emergency rooms. That would begin to “putty” up the cracks of our siloed system and increase outcomes.

Now onto my friends at BHRP; Tara Bohley, Program Coordinator and Clinical Assistant Professor, and her compatriot, Ronald L. Mangum, Clinical Assistant Professor. Those two are a potent team. There is something like 40 states that now have a certification process and NC is one of them. The state gave the task to BHRP and Tara and Ron shepherd that. I say shepherd because all of it, all the words and curriculum and final oks came from and through Peer Support Specialists with lived experience. We wrote it, they supported us and superb support it is. I got to know Tara and Ron working on the Peer Support Training Council (PSTC). That was created by Flo Stein, MPH, Deputy Director, Division of MH/DD/SAS and champion of all things ROSC and BHRP, to update a training curriculum as a guide for the training systems out there, to advance the standards of the programs. A great melding of professional and peer-run, if you ask me.

THAT has been a real pleasure, though it seemed a daunting task during the early days. A great crew of Peer Support Specialists and lived experience champions all, came together and we worked hard to consensus a tool for guidance into the future. Though the core curriculum is completed we are continuing on with numerous tasks we identified as important.  It has been wonderful working with this crew, getting to know each another as we strive to do good work. It’s rewarding to build relationships through this process. It reminds me of a favorite quote of mine, from 12 Step literature, “The conscience of an informed group is God’s Will on Earth”.  HUGE wisdom for all of us there.

Besides Flo, Tara and Ron’s measured guidance, the Council’s current membership includes; Ken Blackman, Gin Monroe, LaToya Harris-Freeman, Wes Rider, Susan Hall, Lyn Legere, Richie Tannerhill, Laura Brower, Ken Schuesselin, Rosemary Weaver, and yours truly. Previous members have included; Emery Cowan, Joan Kaye, both on loan from the DHHS; Cherene Allen-Caraco, Jessica Herrmann and Tommy Crawford.

Reviewing history with Ron Mangum, for perspective, he gave me the list, from 2007, of the very first role-delineation study to develop the standards of the first rendition of the forty-hour course to be Peer Support Certified. Over three days, in Winston-Salem, they came up with 3-4,000 (no kidding) items that distilled down into the final domains that needed to be utilized. In the interest of honoring our forbearers, that group included: P. Wesley Rider, Virginia Monroe, (you’ll notice they are on the current council, those two put in some time!), Gladys Christian, Stephen Pocklington, Rev. Dorothy O’Neal, Obie Johnson Jr., Kim Franklin, Dorothy Best, Debbie A. Webster, Megan American horse, April Llenzg, Lloyd Parsons, Bonnie Schell, Carl Noyes, Tom Hanson, Shirley Hart.

Just like when they receive an Oscar, I hope I didn’t miss someone.Our thanks and gratitude to everyone for your service!

The linked BHRP website, with additions and improvements continuing as we speak, has mucho data including a county-by-county number of specialists.  NC reports 1834 specialists certified by BHRP (at time of publication).  A crew ready to spring into action built to make a difference in the lives of those who need it! The site has information on the requirements to apply, locations of trainings, job postings and much more. There are instructive videos on what peer support work is like and look to see more added in the future.Allow me to add that the new standards created by the PSTC, for the NC Peer Support Specialist Certification Training added areas of focus around ethics and boundaries, substance use disorders, trauma-informed practices and cultural competence and awareness.  This brought the total domains to nine.  In addition, course developers are being asked to more thoroughly develop a training of their trainers and to register their trainers with the state.Lastly, it now requires all trainers to be certified as Peer Support Specialists in NC.I could write about how integration of healthcare-behavioral and medical-is another wave of the future, with medical “hubs”.  Here’s an article from the NC Council of Community Programs – see page 6. And how it demands Peer Support to be more than just a savings for insurance companies, but Hey, this is more links and acronyms that one body needs in a day so I’ll stop there and leave you with:

Thanks for staying (peer) supportive out there,