"The goal of recovery is not to become normal. The goal is to embrace the human vocation of becoming more deeply, more fully human." -Patricia Deegan
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. This was the state of Maine’s first effort to incorporate peer support services into a psychiatric facility. We have been working with patients since 2005 providing vital support services as well as assisting with the Outpatient Services team. Peer Support Specialists serve as peer contacts and assist in facilitating the re-entry process into the community.
We are committed to a vision of
the possibility of recovery
for Riverview's patients.
Meeting a person where they are at:
The work of Peer Support Specialists is unique to each relationship, depending on the specific needs, situation, and desire to receive support on the part of the individual residing at Riverview. Our services offer choice and are completely 100% voluntary.
Peer Support Specialists actively connect individuals to sober housing, relevant mental health services, treatment programming, and vocational opportunities and often facilitate connection between those we support and their family/natural supports.
Working Relationships & Mutuality:
Peer Support Specialists negotiate relational needs and interests in ways that work for both individuals involved. Through this mutuality both individuals within the relationship have an opportunity to learn and grow together.
What can I expect from Peer Support?
Peer Support Specialists are with patients each step of their stay at Riverview. They can be present at the time of admission with patient permission. There is a full time peer assigned to each of the 4 units within the hospital. Peer Support is committed to ensuring that patient needs are met, and their voices are heard. They will attend treatment team meetings if the patient prefers, and they are able to share their wisdom, knowledge, and empathy to both the patients and staff in an effort to encourage and empower patients to take an active role in their recovery.
Who are the Peer Support Specialists?
They are individuals hired by Amistad who have personal experience with mental illness and recovery. The Peer Specialists 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.
What are people saying about our services?
• “We are extremely fortunate to have Peer Support as part of the team!” –Superintendent Rodney Bouffard.
• “I would like to celebrate our Peer Support workers, they are absolutely tremendous! Thank you for all you do every day!” –Jason Grunstrom-Whitney, Substance Abuse Counselor, LADC/LSW.
• “As many know, I worked in mental health for many, many years before the peer support program started. It should have been started way back. All peer staff is much appreciated by everyone. Their efforts and skills have not only added to making it safer but have made recovery for patients come faster in many situations.” –Robert Lamoreau, Program Service Director, Lower Saco Unit.
• “Can I just say that we love Alicia here on Lower Saco. She is intelligent, humble, and inspiring to all of us. She has a great work ethic and the clients respond to her approach. She goes out of her way to be helpful to the clients and responsive to their recovery efforts. She is always present and is as genuine as they come. She is a GREAT fit for our unit and has become an essential member of the team.” –Melanie Giguere, L.S.W.
• “Our peer support colleagues are vital members of the team, and wonderful colleagues to boot. They certainly play a vital role on our Lower Saco team, including recent efforts with a very challenging patient that has helped protect staff from harm, including myself, while assisting the patient as well.” –Ben Grasso MD, Interim Medical Director.
• “One of the most valuable resources we have here, and wonderful people.” –Chelsey Rodriguez, LSW.
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