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Common Values of Peer Specialists

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Pi is approximately 3.14. E in Math is 2.718. X in Algebra is not known yet or is often called a “variable” or sometimes named “unknown.”  I am not going to write about mathematical equations or how letters or special letter symbolizes something else. For my reference, they are all values, but this is not the definition I am referencing. 

Values come in various incarnations. In some situations, values mean an adequate return for goods, services, and money. The example above denotes a numerical quantity assigned or found by a calculation or measurement. Throughout this article, we will discuss values as it relates to a person, especially Peer Specialists.

Let us begin by considering a value as someone or something essential and beneficial plus having a high opinion. Each individual has their unique value and value system based on environment and culture. Later in life, one’s values are altered by work and relationships. However, we often use our intrinsic knowledge to keep and use our earlier values. For the values of Peer Specialists like myself, meaning and use are slightly different. 

By sharing our own lived experiences and practical guidelines, Peer Supporters or Peer Specialists help to develop our own goals. In addition, we create strategies for self-empowerment and take concrete steps towards building and fulfilling self-determined lives. Furthermore, our personal experiences can foster meaningful connections and a more profound sense of understanding.

Shery Mead, author of “Intentional Peer Support,” wrote that Peer Support is the “Process of giving and receiving encouragement and assistance in long-term recovery. Peers offer emotional support, share knowledge, teach skills, provide practical assistance, and connect people with resources, opportunities, support communities, and other people”. The National Ethical Guidelines and Practice Standards and National Practice Guidelines for Peer Supporters gave us these twelve values of Certified Peer Specialists. 

. Peer Support is voluntary. 

. Peer Supporters are hopeful.

. Peer Supports are open-minded.

. Peer Supporters are empathetic.

. Peer Supporters are respectful.

. Peer Supporters facilitate change.

. Peer Supporters are honest and direct.

. Peer Support is mutual and reciprocal.

. Peer Support is equally shared power.

. Peer Support is strengths-focused.

. Peer Support is transparent. 

. Peer Support is person-driven

Most state Peer Specialist Agencies around the United States have adopted some or all of these values and put them in their ethics. The majority of these agencies state the basic value of peer support is that people freely choose to participate. It is for people who want to be involved, not people who have been told they need it or are pressured to attend.

Many Peer Specialists in Canada use a similar value system. Courtesy of Peer Support Canada, these are the core values used:

. Hope and Recovery

. Empathize and Equal Relationships 

. Self-Determination 

. Dignity, Respect, and Social Inclusion 

. Integrity, Authenticity, and Trust

. Health and Wellness 

. Lifelong Learning and Personal Growth 

Young Peer Specialists (generally under 30) have slightly different values and treat others similarly. They help children, and adolescents feel comfortable, understood, and responsible. In addition, younger Peer Specialists teach youth decision-making skills to aid in combat negative peer pressure and provide education that suits their needs.

Around the globe, the number of older adults (generally over 60) is ever-increasing, and interventions with Peer Specialists are also growing exponentially. Elderly individuals have their values and use interventions to cope with their advanced age. These interventions include peer companionship (older adults matched with the same group). 

Peer companions aim to reduce loneliness and social isolation and aid seniors in remaining independent in their communities. Also, Peer Specialists provide support with housing, navigating both the physical and mental health insurance spectrum, and provider information and services.

Facilitating and attending support groups increases our values. Generally, a peer group head knows how to build people up, and employing those strengths is a great asset. Mutual exchange of strategies to cope with everyday issues and concerns about living with mental health issues is a critical aspect in groups. Not only are these ideal components of successful therapy, but they can promote treatment through personal gain through empowerment and provide a unique recovery technique.

In this article, I tried to state the idea that Peer Specialists like myself can be an essential element of human society. Our value is ever-growing, and we are in more facets of the world. Yes, we make mistakes, like everyone, because we are human beings. People suffering from any mental challenge deserve a chance.

See you in the NewsBlogs and Newsletters. 

About the Author

Howard Diamond CPS (Certified Peer Specialist)

Howard Diamond, CPS (Certified Peer Specialist) is a hardworking Editorial Board Member and eager contributor to Mental Health Affairs. He has worked in various settings all over Long Island and New York State where he resides. His articles are layered with incredible profound insights into his health and state of being, which resonate with his audience do deeply struggling with their mental health and connection to the bigger world. Howard has a dedicated following of readers and he also writes for other websites on his lived experience and ongoing thoughts on mental health. We are happy to have him working with the site and being so gracious with his time, energy, and dedication to our site.
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