Blog /December 2011
On behalf of our staff and Board of Directors, I am delighted to celebrate PEERS' 10 years of community service, empowering individuals and advocating for a mental health system that focuses on wellness and recovery led by consumers.
Fortunately, Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services has valued, supported and collaborated with PEERS since our inception in December 2001. We would not be here today without them by our side. We also would not be here if it were not for our past leaders: our founder Tracy Thode, Sydney Loggins, Andree Reyes, Harold Lowe, Katrina Killian, John Woodruff, and many more who planted and watered the seeds of our growth.
It was while reflecting on this momentous event, that I was reminded of the principles that motivated not only me, but many of us to get involved with PEERS.The principles that PEERS was founded on and continues to drive our success today are:
1. Building positive relationships
2. Fostering collaborations between consumers and the community
Through these principles, we are reaching out and improving the quality of life for so many struggling with mental health challenges. We are self-determined and empowered to share both our personal experiences and expertise about our health.
Ten years ago, I was a person who feared sharing my experience within the mental health system. I had seen several psychiatrists in my lifetime and struggled with isolation, extended periods of sadness and sudden mood changes. I was ashamed and worried that others would think I was incompetent and therefore discredit me.
Luckily, I was introduced to PEERS through my work at Villa Fairmont, a mental health rehabilitation center. I attended one of the monthly Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) orientations and was hooked from the beginning. WRAP fascinated me. Its focus on hope, personal responsibility, education, self advocacy and support was exactly what I needed. The orientation brought together individuals with unique life experiences and different views of wellness. The common thread was that we were there with a willingness to learn. We shared our wellness tools and began developing action plans to address our challenges. I remember leaving that orientation with a sense of renewed hope and commitment to my wellness. The most important detail to me was that the staff modeled the principles PEERS was founded on, positive relationship building and community collaborations. They also created a space that was safe, welcoming and treated everyone with unconditional high regard. It was powerful!
Clearly, our founder had a vision and emphasized the need for the inclusion and leadership of people with mental health challenges in transforming the mental health system. It’s an enormous accomplishment that we are standing here 10 years later with all of our success.
In the last four years, we have grown 300% and touched over 11,500 lives.
We are also making waves in the media/marketing world and have established an unwavering commitment to quality, innovation, and partnerships when bringing positive changes to the mental health system.
Some of you may have heard the African proverb which says, “If you wish to go fast, go alone. But if you wish to go far, go together.” Together we will build, create and lead a community where we live, love, learn, work, play and pray together in safety and acceptance.
I look forward to the next 10 years and hope you will join us in spreading wellness and recovery.