When January of 2020 arrived, everyone was filled with hope, joy and frantically establishing their resolutions for the new year. Little did we know that in a few short weeks our society would be forever changed as the Covid-19 pandemic was thrust upon us. The pandemic brought on not only a change in what our day to day lives looked like BUT how we lived those day to day lives.

Mental health has always been around and there has always been an ever growing conversation about the importance of mental health but 2020 forever changed those conversations as we continue to see the impact that 2020 and on brought to us all. According to statistics from Mental Health America there was a significant increase in individuals struggling with anxiety and depression as well as an increase in individuals navigating the symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) as a result of the many traumas that gripped our nation in 2020. People were hurting, people were struggling and due to the stigma attached to mental health, many were uncertain where to turn.

With so many individuals living with mental health conditions and struggles, the need for certified and qualified support specialists is imperative. The stigma surrounding mental health also applies to mental health professionals which have greatly impacted people reaching out for help when they need it. What has remained a constant is people looking to converse with others who understand where they are coming from and the struggles they are facing. One individual that attends a weekly peer-led support group for depression, shared that they attend regular treatment with a licensed mental health professional but that the peer group which is led by a peer support specialist is where they feel a community and are not ashamed to share with others about their ongoing struggle.

We all are peers, and can offer support to one another, but with knowledge and training about how to work alongside the licensed therapist and other mental health professionals can create a lasting effect on a person’s recovery. A certified recovery peer specialist is a person who uses their lived experience and skills learned in training to help others achieve and maintain recovery and wellness from mental health and/or substance use conditions. We need peer specialists now more than ever as more and more individuals are looking for someone to relate to and access to mental health care is not always readily available.

Learn more about how you can become certified as a recovery peer specialist and impact your community.