September 2, 2010
ARLINGTON, Va. -- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will offer Peer-to-Peer classes across the country this fall using a new, interactive curriculum that will be available in both English and Spanish.
In the NAMI blog entry for this week, Sarah O'Brien, director of NAMI Peer-to-Peer, reflects on mental health recovery, the program's growth and what she has learned from participants.
"Peer-to-Peer is based upon the hope that recovery is possible," said O'Brien. "We aim to provide education that empowers people to make better choices."
NAMI's Peer-to-Peer program is designed for people living with serious mental illness who want to maintain their wellness and recovery. The program is led by a team of two trained mentors who are personally experienced in living well with mental illness.
Peer-to-Peer participants attend ten two-hour courses and address the way mental illness can impact their personal and professional lives, relationships, legal and health concerns. They work through mindfulness exercises, plans for relapse prevention and develop skills for communicating with their mental health providers.
"Watching people overcome so much hardship so they can reach out to others is one of the most incredible parts of my job," O'Brien writes. "I am privileged to watch people with many challenges turn their lives around because suddenly they have tools and knowledge that they didn't have access to before."
The Spanish translation of the new course edition will be available in late October.
In addition to work with the Spanish-speaking communities, NAMI's Peer-to-Peer partners include the Veterans Administration, mental health courts, drop-in centers, club houses and wellness centers.
In the future, Peer-to-Peer will offer more resources online to reach people living with mental illness who reside in areas where classes are not currently offered.
Find a Peer-to-Peer class in your community here.
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI has over 1100 state and local affiliates that engage in research, education, support and advocacy.