" An admission to Riverview can be an overwhelming and frightening experience, where a patient may be be removed from family or community supports.
The Peer Support Program at Riverview Psychiatric Center
Amistad operates a Peer Support program inside Riverview Psychiatric Center (the former Augusta Mental Health Institute), Maine’s largest state psychiatric hospital. We have been working with patients since 2005, providing vital support services as well as assisting with outpatient services. When folks are discharged from Riverview, many begin their re-entry to society in group homes. Peer supporters serve as peer contacts in often stressful situations, facilitating the re-entry process.
We are committed to a vision of
the possibility of recovery
for Riverview's patients.
Case by Case
The work of the Peer Coaches is case-by-case, depending on the specific needs, situation, and motivation to receive help on the part of the served individual.
After an initial assessment, our Coaches establish a solid, working partnership that offers a lifeline to use when in distress. Our approach seeks to stem negatively cycling behavior and reduce the toll on area hospitals and systems.
Peer Coaches actively connect individuals to sober housing, relevant mental health services or treatment programming, vocational opportunities.
Peer Supporters are with patients every step of their stay at Riverview.
They are present at admissions and there is a full-time peer supporter assigned to each of the 4 units of the hospital. Peer Supporters are committed to ensuring that patient needs are met and patient voices are heard. They will attend treatment team meetings if the patient prefers, and they can share their wisdom, knowledge and empathy to patients and staff. Support groups, wellness programs, and recovery classes at the hospital are also facilitated by peer supporters.
To our knowledge, this may be the most serious effort to introduce peer support in any state psychiatric hospital in the country. Riverview has made peer support available to all patients, and the hospital has also made sure that staff from the Peer Support program are involved in all major decisions within the hospital.
They are individuals hired by Amistad who have personal experience with mental illness and recovery. The Peer Supporters have been there. They know first hand the struggles of living with a mental illness. They are living examples that recovery is possible — they are the evidence of it.
Julia R. Duncan
Peer Services Coordinator (Augusta Office)
250 Arsenal St Augusta, Maine 04332
The staff of the Peer Support Program have been there. They know first hand the struggles of living with a mental illness. And they are living examples that recovery is possible – they are the evidence of it.
What do you mean by Peer Support?
It is what you would expect to receive from a family member or friend if they were to accompany you to the emergency room for a medical emergency. We offer peer support to individuals who visit the emergency room for a psychiatric crisis – individuals who are often frightened, confused, and very often alone.
Who are the Peer Supporters?
They are individuals hired by Amistad who have personal experience with mental illness and recovery. The staff of the Peer Support Program have been there. They know first hand the struggles of living with a mental illness. And they are living examples that recovery is possible – they are the evidence of it.
What can I expect from Peer Support?
Peer Supporters understand that going to the emergency department can be a frightening experience. Time moves slowly. Long waits are common. Peer Supporters will make sure that you get a meal or drink if that would be helpful. They make sure that you understand what is happening. They can share their experience with you, or just sit with you. They will help you pass the time, play cards with you, or offer you reading or writing material. They can share resources with you, or skills that they have found useful once you are out of the emergency room.
How do I find them?
They are in the East Wing of the emergency room every evening from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM. They will find you, or you can request peer support from the nurse on duty in the emergency room.
Benjamin Skillings or Mindy Harrison
PO Box 992 Portland, Maine 04104