peer support class celebrates graduation

​​Achieving sustained recovery isn't easy. It takes courage. It takes perseverance. It takes diligence.

That's what a class of about 15 people in recovery who participated in Peer Support Training learned as they took a 40-hour course at Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions. The course is certified by the state of North Carolina to provide one of the elements of certification to become a certified peer support specialist. The goal of the training is to prepare individuals who have demonstrated at least a year of recovery from mental illness or addictions to work in the behavioral health field.

The class members who spoke during training recently referred to it as a life transforming experience, not just an academic class.

The course covers Principles of Recovery, Cultural Competency, Communication Skills, Boundaries and Ethics, Helping Individuals in Various Situations, Conflict Resolution, Empowering Practices, History of Mental Health/Substance Abuse Treatment and the Recovery Movement, Partnering with other Professionals along with other topics. Another 20 hours of training is required for the certification along with two references who can verify the ​year of recovery.

"We aim to provide a rich learning experience that uses different learning modalities and multiple intelligences in each lesson," said Mike Weaver, a Consumer Affairs Specialist with Cardinal Innovations. "The class is very experiential using many role playing situations. We want to prepare the students for what it is really like to provide services. It is a much more emotional experience than perhaps teaching about the Industrial Revolution."

The class was facilitated by Weaver and fellow Consumer Affairs Specialists Ron Clark and Carol Gouge, who also work for Cardinal Innovations.

Participants in the recent class included Gloria Council, who spoke during the class graduation. She said she works hard to maintain her outer beauty with perfect makeup to hide the underlying depression. "All of you continue to hold your head up," she said to her classmates, breaking into a song.

Russell Andrews, who struggled with drug addiction and homelessness in the past, is now sober and in recovery, working for the Men's Shelter. "I'm happy that what I'll get from going through this journey is the chance to share it with other people," he said.

Sheila Morgan spoke about courage and her life in Baltimore. She said the Peer Support class was unique. "I found out the amount of courage it takes to change," she said.