For much of my life I felt stagnant. I had no direction. No purpose. No meaning. I was born with every advantage in my life. For too long, I felt an immense amount of guilt for not seizing all the opportunities I had at my fingertips.
I spent time in hospital and as an outpatient, and had many therapists. While finding medication that worked helped, the big question and heaviest weight of all still sat on my chest holding me prisoner. What is my meaning? How can I live a life with purpose and passion?
I needed something more.
Then I found out about The School of Peer Support and the peer support services offered through CMHA Calgary.
Lived experience is the foundation of CMHA Calgary’s School of Peer Support and all its peer services. I, along with all the peers trained and employed at CMHA Calgary, are encouraged to share our own experience to assist others where they are currently at in their own lives.
The thought that I may be able to help others in their own journey of recovery, through non-judgemental empathy and understanding, instilled a great sense of hope in myself and for the first time I could envision living a life with purpose and meaning.
I vividly remember driving home after my interview for The School of Peer Support with tears of joy streaming down my face. I had found it. I was going to be living a life I could be proud of.
Last year, I, along with 25 other students, were accepted into the School of Peer Support to receive 120 hours of specialized training, including 70 hours of in-class curriculum and experiential learning, and a 50 hour supervised work placement.
It was nothing short of incredible.
As of 2019, 79 students, like me, have graduated from The School of Peer Support. There are currently another 35 students expected to graduate in 2020. Many of my fellow students, have now found employment in the field of peer support, including at CMHA Calgary’s Welcome Centre and Recovery College. We also receive continuous mentorship, coaching, and support to enhance our skills.
The faculty, mentors, and fellow students at The School of Peer Support have allowed me a free space to openly be vulnerable and take my mental illness from a place of shame to a source of pride and strength.
I completed my work placement at one of the hospitals in Calgary. Every day I worked alongside health care professionals and patients to use my story as a guide on their journey. The beneficial attributes of peer support could be seen by all, including the doctors, nurses, psychologists, and psychiatrists, as a remarkable resource in recovery.
It made my heart full to see that they too believe in the power of peer support.
TO CONTINUE TRAINING STUDENTS TO HELP OTHERS ON THEIR RECOVERY JOURNEY, WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT.
I am asking you today to donate to continue and grow the peer support movement at CMHA Calgary and our School for Peer Support.