Center of Workforce Innovations Peer Recovery Program allows Individuals to get certified to help those battling mental illness and addiction

Center of Workforce Innovations Peer Recovery Program allows Individuals to get certified to help those battling mental illness and addiction

Center of Workforce Innovations recently introduced a Peer Recovery Program to train and certify individuals with lived experience overcoming mental illness and or addiction. This program allows people to get certified and find a career path that helps the well-being and mental health of their peers.

“In Indiana and across the country, one in five adults have suffered from a mental health issue,” Kate DeRolf, Business Service Representative for Special Programs, said. “In Indiana, 20% of that one in five didn't attempt to seek treatment because they didn't have the resources available to them for various reasons.”

This five-day training certifies participants as peer recovery coaches or peer recovery specialists. This is a fairly new position being implemented in countless companies and organizations across the country.

“There are a lot of people, especially if they're an overcomer, who are proud to be an overcomer,” DeRolf said. “The recovery community is amazing at being self-empowered and really wanting to ensure and empower others and you're seeing more of that with the mental health community.”

People with lived experience overcoming mental illness or addiction can become certified and get a job helping employees within the company they work for overcome their personal hardships. DeRolf explained having this resource enhances both individuals and businesses.

“This type of program is meant to help erase the stigma that exists,” DeRolf said. “It's meant to help open up conversations about different practices. It's not necessarily just seeking treatment. It's recognizing when there is an issue.”

DeRolf explained being able to identify what it looks like if someone is potentially dealing with a mental illness or an addiction, and knowing how to provide or where to find resources that may help change lives. This certification will help individuals that have empathy toward the situations their peers may be in be able to do this while furthering their careers.

“It is an entry-level certification that really helps someone who doesn't have a social services background get an entry-level credential to help get their foot in the door with a career. We believe rescue people rescue people.”

In order to get involved, you must have lived experience overcoming mental illness or addiction, be an Indiana resident and be at least 18 years of age. You must be enrolled or enroll in Center of Workforce Innovations programs, which all are no-cost, and then you will be signed up for the course.

“We do target those who identify as black, indigenous, or a person of color because those are the communities that are most underrepresented and underserved, '' DeRolf said. “However, anyone is welcome to take the training but you do have to have lived experience.”

The training is five days with two days of Indiana ethics, and transportation, childcare, and other resources can be provided if needed. After attending the training, you must apply for and complete the course in order to obtain the certification.

Once an individual is certified, there are countless career opportunities open for them, and the ability to help their peers increases dramatically. This program provides the ability to put personal experience and scientific knowledge together to benefit the lives of others.

“I've met a lot of great individuals doing this. It's been incredibly surprising how personal this journey has been. Never before have I seen so many unexpected people really share their stories, share their family stories or someone that they know who's been affected by this,” DeRolf said. “People have a desire. They have a sincere desire to help and gain more understanding. It has been an amazing journey.”

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