Many individuals with mental health conditions have found that support from others with similar life experiences is a unique and extremely beneficial practice. The Edinburg Center strongly believes that hiring persons with lived experience of mental illness and recovery, benefits all of its staff and those persons using its services. Peer staff introduce individuals to recovery activities and local self-help groups. For instance, Edinburg Peer Support Counselors run Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) groups. WRAP “shifts the focus in mental health care from ‘symptom control’ to prevention and recovery. The result is significant reduction in the need for costly mental health and emergency services as people who experience mental health challenges effectively take responsibility for their own wellness by using a variety of self-help techniques and reach out for and use the support of a network of family members, friends, and health care providers.” (Mary Ellen Copeland). Peer support staff also conduct other peer support activities such as Peer-to-Peer workshops and a Dual Recovery Anonymous meeting which provides support to individuals who have both mental health and substance use conditions.
The Edinburg Center’s Outpatient Services provides outpatient counseling and medication services to local residents. Many clinic consumers use a treatment strategy known as CommonGround. This program provides consumers with peer support, education and assistance with communicating to their medication prescribers the most important things in their lives, their aspirations, and the role that medication plays in supporting those things. Peer support staff help consumers describe their well being since their last visit and any changes that the prescriber should be aware of. The CommonGround program, designed by Pat Deegan, Ph.D., encourages persons with mental health conditions to take a proactive approach to their recovery by using their own “personal medicine” (the things they have identified in their lives that they benefit from) to enhance their feelings of wellness.