VA North Texas Health Care System
Veterans help fellow Veterans with recovery
VA’s mission is to improve the lives of Veterans through the delivery of various health care programs and services. From time to time, a new service or program comes along that accompanies VA’s mission and we want Veterans to know about it. The Peer Support Program in Mental Health is one of those services.
Here’s how it works.
Veterans admitted in inpatient and outpatient mental health programs receive services either at their own request or at the advice of their mental health provider. The two Veterans work together to aid in the recovery process. It’s a buddy system of giving and receiving help.
A peer support specialist
- is someone with a mental health and/or occurring disorder.
- is actively engaged in his/her own recovery.
- volunteers or is hired to provide peer support services to others engaged in mental health treatment.
- has been trained to help others with mental health disorders identify and achieve specific life and recovery goals.
Peer support specialists serve as role models by sharing personal recovery stories. They help fellow Veterans realize that recovery from mental illness is possible. They teach goal setting, problem solving, symptom management skills and a variety of recovery tools. They also empower by helping others identify strengths, support, resources and skills. Peers advocate by working to eliminate the stigma of mental illness.
Some other advantages of peer support:
- Fosters independence
- Improves social functioning and quality of life
- Lessens the sense of loneliness, rejection and discrimination
- Improves communication with providers
- Improves the effectiveness of the mental health delivery system and much more
Since its inception at VA North Texas Health Care System, the Peer Support Program has gained favorable feedback from both Veterans and providers.