FHR represented at fifth national Peer Specialist Conference

Published 09/01/2011

NAPS Conference rallies support for Peer Recovery Services

NAPSRaleigh, NC – September 1, 2011 – Director of Peer Recovery Services at Fellowship Health Resources, Inc. (FHR), Bob Rousseau, was one of over two hundred Peer Specialists attending the 5th National Association of Peer Specialists (NAPS) Conference at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel on August 22-24.

Executive Director of NAPS, Steve Harrington, welcomed Peer Specialists from across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Scotland to this event. “The time has come for Peer Specialists to team up with University researchers to create hard data demonstrating that peer support services are necessary,” Harrington said. “With cuts to federal and state budgets for Mental Health services being made, our data can and will demonstrate that Peer Services are not only more cost effective than traditional mental health services, but that they make significant improvements in the quality of life of the persons served.”

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) leaders have begun implementing their own federally mandated program, Recovery to Practice, as an initiative corresponding with NAPS. “Recovery to Practice is an effort by the federal government to help mental health providers adopt and use recovery-oriented practices,” says Gladys Christian, President of NAPS. “NAPS is one of the five organizations that were selected by SAMSHA to develop and disseminate curricula and training material for mental health professionals.”

FHR Representative Bob Rousseau, commented on the dedication of the conference speakers who are working towards concrete goals for Peer Specialists. “Peter Ashenden, one of the keynote speakers from the conference, lobbies continually for service providers and federal and state agencies to establish a career ladder for Certified Peer Specialists,” Rousseau says.

The conference offered participants a unique opportunity to share personal experiences with an enthusiastic audience. “I know that my opinion is valued in my position with the Veterans Administration, and I am often asked to comment on situations from a recovery perspective,” says Steve Woodward, who works in recovery services at a hospital in Virginia. “I have been asked by doctors to accompany them on their rounds and sometimes the Psychiatrist will even say, ‘Let’s ask Steve – he’s our recovery expert’.”

FHR President/CEO Joe Dziobek, an ardent supporter of peer recovery services, continues to advance the service and practice of Peer Specialists in FHR programs. The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) for Leadership and Clinicians course scheduled in Massachusetts this fall demonstrates elements from SAMSHA’s Recovery to Practice in its curriculum.

“I envision a day when each FHR Program has its own Peer Specialist and artist-in-residence,” Dziobek says. “FHR is committed to the enhancement of our recovery-oriented programs; we plan to continue utilizing the help and expertise of those with lived experience in our services.”