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Mental Health Recovery and Peer Support Programs


BRIDGES Building Recovery and Individual Dreams and Goals through Education and Support is a mental health recovery curriculum developed in the early 1990’s with descriptions of self-help tools and strategies, utilizing the medical model and its language.

Bridger Program helps peers develop supportive and beneficial relationships that allow for new role development and healthier community relationships. “Bridgers” (people who provide assistance and support) maintain connections with people in the community and offer informal support to avoid crises. This program has been one of the earliest attempts to reintegrate people who were in state hospitals back into the community. They are currently focusing on work with adult homes, building community resources and connections, and training peers to support people in developing advance directives. Not only has this program been helpful to people who have been “bridged,” it also has tremendous influence on changing hospital and community support staff’s attitudes.

Community and Hospital Advocates receive their work orders at the requests of the individuals in need. Individuals in need can gain to access to advocates through the Peer Support Line and Community Centers. This innovative approach was developed by The Empowerment Center.

ComPeer is a National Association for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) program that matches people with involuntary commitment orders and community volunteers who share similar interests.

GROW is a peer support and mutual aid organization for recovery from, and prevention of, serious mental disorder. GROW adapted many of AA's principles and practices as well as Recovery, Inc. and integrated pieces of its will-training methods. Founded in Sydney, Australia in 1957 by Father Cornelius B. "Con" Keogh, a Roman Catholic priest and as of 2005 there were more than 800 GROW groups active worldwide.

Intentional Peer Support: An Alternative Approach is a comprehensive relationship curriculum developed by Shery Mead in 2005 dealing with peer support from a relational perspective and addresses developing and maintaining relationships.

MovementToChange has three different series as part of its healing and wellness curriculum. The basic assumption starts with “we all have human needs and must be respectful”. This comprehensive curriculum reframes recovery and defines wellness to make the healing journey more assessable both to the individuals in distress and those who desire to help them, providing practical applications for seeking healing & balancing life’s challenges. This model was developed by Eva Scholle after extensive research and personal experiences.

Peer-to-Peer is an experiential learning program consisting of a nine class series comprised of lecture, interactive exercises and Mindfulness Practices (techniques offered to develop and expand awareness). Participants come away with a resource binder of materials which includes: an advance directive; a “relapse prevention plan”, mindfulness exercises, and survival skills for working with providers and the general public.

Recovery International (formerly Recovery, Inc., often referred to simply as Recovery) has meetings where members share examples from their lives that caused nervous symptoms, the thoughts that occurred just beforehand, how they spotted them and reacted to them. Other members offer alternative ways of looking at the situation and suggest how to better handle similar symptoms in the future. Meetings follow a rigid schedule to ensure adherence to Recovery methods and ends with refreshments and mutual aid. Each meeting has a leader in a permanent position, leadership duties do not rotate from meeting to meeting. Recovery International is a mental health self-help organization with an estimated 600 regular meetings worldwide and was founded in 1937 by neuro-psychiatrist Abraham Low.

Recovery Mentors is based on a program developed by The Empowerment Center and currently is being provided in collaboration with the Mental Health Association. Advocates are trained to form relationships with individuals and respond to their needs. Individuals in need choose which Recovery Mentor they would like to work with.

Recovery x-Change is a wellness management training partnership of peer specialists and providers committed to the belief that with the appropriate supports and resources recovery is possible for anyone.

Taking Action - a Recovery Curriculum focuses on cultural diversity, making information more easily accessible to people who may have difficulty learning, flexibility in program implementation, values and ethics of mental health recovery, adaptation for use in various settings, a wellness rather than an illness orientation, working toward achieving personal life goals and dreams, community integration, and using action planning to achieve that integration.

Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) is a curriculum where participants identify internal and external resources and then uses these tools to create their own individualized plan for successful living by Mary Ellen Copeland through the Vermont Psychiatric Survivors, DDMHS, and the Henry van Ameringen Foundation in 1995.

*Eva Scholle is Co-Founder & President of The Empowerment Center, Inc. and Executive Director of Movement To Change, Inc.

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