Looking for Peer Network Indiana?

Do you want to learn about how to become a Certified Recovery Specialist or Community Health Worker? Please visit our website dedicated to these trainings by clicking on the button below.

Interested in Support Groups?

MHANI supports a variety of peer-to-peer support groups in the Fort Wayne area. All support groups are facilitated by peers who have faced the challenge that the support group addresses.

  • Anxiety and Depression – for adults experiencing anxiety and/or depression
  • Success with ADHD – for adults experiencing symptoms of ADHD

View Spring 2019 support group flyer here.

Times, dates, and locations of support groups are subject to change. Please confirm group times, dates, and locations by contacting us here.

MHANI’s Peer Support program is funded in part by Parkview Community Health Improvement.

What are peer services?

Peer support services provide an opportunity for consumers who have achieved significant recovery to assist others in their recovery journeys. Peer specialists model recovery, teach skills, and offer supports to help people experiencing mental health challenges lead meaningful lives in the community. Peer specialists promote recovery; enhance hope and social networking through role modeling; and supplement existing treatment with education, empowerment, and aid while working through the mental health system (Optum Health, n.d).

At Mental Health America of Northeast Indiana, peer services include advocacy and mentoring, support groups, and Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) classes.

Why are peer services important?

People with mental illness who are helped by peers tend to experience more thorough and longer-lasting recoveries (Vestal, 2013). Additionally, research shows that the use of peer specialists allows states to save mental health program dollars by reducing hospitalizations and other emergency interventions and increases involvement in community events and organizations.

Optum Health, (n.d.). Enhancing consumer-centered recovery: Building programs, finding solutions, and expanding services. Retrieved from website: CLICK HERE

Vestal, C. (2013, September 11). “Peers” seen easing mental health worker shortage. Kaiser Health News. Retrieved from website: CLICK HERE

What do peer specialists do?

Peer support specialists work in a variety of roles that include but are not limited to:

  • independent peer support
  • case management
  • peer wellness coaching
  • education and advocacy
  • active participants on treatment teams in a full range of clinical settings, including crisis services
  • peer navigator or “bridgers”—helping people to navigate community services and supports

Peer Support Volunteer Positions

What is a Volunteer Peer Specialist (VPS)?

A VPS offers their time and support to individuals who are facing mental health or substance use challenges. VPSs support others in hopes of empowering themselves and those with whom they share similar life experiences to embrace a life of recovery and service to others.

What does a Volunteer Peer Specialist with MHA do?

Our Volunteer Peer Specialists work with individuals seeking recovery from mental health conditions or substance use in a way that meets the needs of the individual seeking support. VPS’s act as allies, role models, and advocates working to build trust and inspire hope.

Ways VPS’s can help:

  • Offering support and resources to individuals who call the MHA helpline
  • Providing face to face coaching/mentoring
  • Assisting in MHA’s Peer Directed Support Groups

What are the principles of working as a VPS?

VPS’s work to maintain relationships of equality, understanding that being helpful to others is also self-healing and empowering to themselves and others through the belief that recovery is possible. VPS’s advocate for support, coach skill development, encourage individual problem solving, and promote a sense of community.

Why does Peer Support work for people in recovery?

In sharing both your strengths and your vulnerabilities, benefits are found for both the role of “helper” and “helpee”. By exploring varied ways of thinking about experiences, we see peers as uniquely capable of relating to each other, listening with empathy & compassion, and offering support. By working in a “helper/helpee” capacity, VPS’s foster a model of lifelong recovery management and wellness.

Who can become a Peer Specialist Volunteer?

Any individual with a history of mental health and/or substance use conditions with a desire to live life in long term recovery and offer their time and support to others can become a Peer Specialist Volunteer. Which role (telephonic, office support, face to face mentoring, or leading support groups) will depend on the interest of the volunteer and the stage of the volunteer’s recovery.

Family Support Specialist

What is a Family Support Specialist (FSS)?

A Family Support Specialist can be anyone who has been impacted by a family member or loved one with a mental health condition or substance use disorder. The FSS is a volunteer who offers their time and support in hopes of empowering others who are facing a similar struggle with a loved one.

What does a Family Support Specialist (FSS) with MHA do?

Our Family Support Specialists work with family members seeking support for themselves or resources for their loved one. FSS’s act as allies, role models, and advocates working to assist families and offer hope.

Ways to help:

  • Offer support and resources to consumers calling into the MHA helpline
  • Provide face to face coaching/support
  • Assist with Peer-Driven family support groups

Peer Support Program Assistant

A Peer Support Assistant is an individual who offers their time and support to the Peer Support programs.

Ways to Help:

  • Writing “Thinking of You” cards to community members in crisis
  • Data Entry
  • Assisting with mailings to promote the Peer Support Programs
  • Assist in maintaining a community resource list
  • Reception Duties
  • General Office Support

Peer Support Advisory Committee

The Peer Advisory Committee is made up of volunteers who review program services, policies, and brainstorm ideas for program improvements.