Peer support advocate urge lawmakers to consider all aspects of care for people struggling

Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 7:41 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Peer support advocates are having what they call an educative day here at the State House. They say overcoming mental health challenges is not a one way fit, and lawmakers need to consider all aspects of care for people struggling.

”People go through homelessness, people may often may have both the substance use and the mental health condition because they are treating it with a substance,” Maline said.

Simonne Maline is the Executive Director of Consumer Council System of Maine.She says people should have other options beside traditional medicine for mental health.

”They are an important piece of what works for people, but some people have been traumatized in traditional mental health services,” Maline said.

As a person who has faced her own share of challenges, she says she’s used both traditional and peer support for recovery.

”It is not that it is one or the other, it is options and opportunities because what works for one person doesn’t always work for the other,” Maline said.

And that is why she says lawmakers need to hear from people going through it.

”Bringing peer respite back to Maine which is a residential house home-like environment staffed by peers,” Maline said.

That is part of the difference between the two.

”Somebody who identifies as somebody openly that has lived through traumatic mental health issues in their lives, and they are trained and given the opportunity to work side by side with traditional providers,” Maline said.

For Jia McKelvy, speaking to someone who understands where they are coming from has helped.

”It is important to me because I feel socially connected to people with my own challenges and my own fears, and I feel like I do not have to hide, and I can speak up,” McKelvy said.

Carly Mahaffey says peer support resonated with her the most.

”The peer support training and the peer support program did so much more for me in terms of helping me with my support in terms of mental health, whatever you want to call it, than any traditional services I ever had. It is just great for people to have that option,” Mahaffey said.