Members and staff at TMWC know first-hand how the power of peer support can affect an individual's recovery journey, but how would you describe 'peer support' to someone who is not familiar with the concept?
"I would start by explaining that one of the most important aspects of peer support is understanding that you are not alone," says Katie Phillips, Peer Enrichment Program (PEP) Director with TMWC. "I would then go on to describe the many benefits of peer support, which can include improved self-care and personal wellness, increased social support, and better self-esteem, confidence, and social skills," she adds.
As a peer-support run organization, the TMWC works to ensure that all those living with mental illness can participate fully as valued members of the community. TMWC is not clinical and does not offer treatment to members.
"We offer encouragement, support, and educational opportunities to help members improve their wellness and recovery," says Katie. "By coming to the center and joining in a support group, or participating in an activity such as fitness, expressive arts, or a peer enrichment class, members are taking the first step toward forming a personal connection with others who have similar life experiences," she adds.
Peer support also teaches people to show compassion for others and their emotions. Making a personal connection helps to understand human emotions, no matter how uncomfortable, while breaking down the stereotypes and stigma associated with mental illness. Without a safe place to release basic emotions such as joy or anger, an individual's mental health symptoms often can worsen.
According to Katie, "There is no set process for recovery. There can be setbacks ─ which is to be expected." Peer support is a great tool to add to your treatment plan, and for discovering what works best for you and your recovery.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about TMWC, please call 419-242-3000. We are happy to give you a tour of our campus and share all of the great programs and services available to our members.