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Written by Project Coordinator, Ella Moore
Just because it is COVID does not mean that our lives have to be on stand-by. There are multitudes of virtual experiences popping up so that life can continue: musicians are hosting virtual concerts on social media, nail salons are offering online nail art tutorials, and restaurants are releasing recipes so that customers can cook signature dishes at home. But what about professional/educational opportunities? Well, like the rest of the world, trainings and classes have had to find a way to adapt too. Let me briefly tell you about a really cool experience I just had in Advocacy Unlimited’s Recovery Support Specialist training.
To give you a little background, I am the Project Coordinator of TurningPointCT.org. Despite getting this position a year ago, I do not have a wealth of experience working in the mental health field professionally. What I do have is a wealth of personal experience of mental health conditions and the mental health system. One of the reasons I was hired was because of my willingness to share my personal experiences to help others. This is a key tenent of peer support. If you are like me, you might be unfamiliar with what peer support is. Peer support is a type of therapeutic treatment in which a person in recovery shares skills and supports with a peer to help both parties achieve long-lasting recovery goals. This means that you can have no actual professional or educational background in psychology and still be able to use your personal experience help people. You might be thinking that this sounds like what you do already for your family and friends, which is probably true! The difference between what you do now and the work of a Recovery/Peer Support Specialist is having the practical framework of trainings and principles
The class consisted of 8 weeks of 2x 5 hour classes a week. The course was hosted on Zoom and was facilitated by a group called Advocacy Unlimited. During this class I was able to bond with my classmates over our shared experiences and grow through our differences. I learned about a Recovery-Oriented and Person-Centered treatment plans, which has completely changed the way I view my own recovery and the way I should be treated by the mental health system. I learned how to be a better listener and how to hold space for someone else. But, most importantly, I learned the importance of human connection and its healing powers. Going through AU’s RSS course was a life changing experience for me. Suddenly, my mental health conditions went from barriers to me finding employment to a prerequisite for my job! Being able to feel confident helping others based on my personal experiences has made me feel so fulfilled and has definitely helped with my own mental health recovery. Despite living in a COVID-world there are still so many opportunities open to us to further our education, careers, and passions. In March 2020, I never would have dreamed that I could continue growing professionally and personally as much as these classes and trainings have allowed!
For more articles about dealing with the changes brought on by COVID-19, check out our Winter Newsletter “Coping With A COVID Holiday Season.”
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