September: A Time for Change, A Time for Hope, A Time for Recovery
By Cele Fichter-DeSando, MPM
In nature, September signals a time of change. The September Equinox signals the start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, and the beginning of spring in the Southern Hemisphere. As fall begins, we reap the fruits of spring planting and summer growth. In spring, we are filled with expectations for new growth, new possibilities, and new challenges. All throughout the world, September is a time for change and hope, making it the perfect time to celebrate National Recovery Month.
National Recovery Month
Organized by the Faces & Voices of Recovery as an event to be held each September, Recovery Month celebrates the progress made by those in recovery from substance use and mental health, just as we celebrate recovery and improvements made in other areas of chronic health such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. (Faces and Voices of Recovery, 2022). The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) describes National Recovery Month as a national observance held every September to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices. The growth and strength of the recovery community and all those who work to make recovery possible, including service providers and community members are celebrated during this month (SAMHSA, 2022). Drawing on years of experience and collaboration, Faces and Voices of Recovery developed a 2022 Recovery Month Toolkit as a resource guide for planning and celebrating Recovery Month. The toolkit includes tips for planning events and community outreach along with graphics to be used in social media and other communications.
Peer Recovery Center of Excellence
As we celebrate Recovery Month, the September edition of the PTTC Post will celebrate and highlight the Peer Recovery Center of Excellence (PR CoE). Two years ago, in September 2020, the PR CoE was funded by SAMHSA to enhance the field of peer recovery support services (PRSS). PR CoE is housed at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) and partners with the University of Wisconsin, University of Texas Austin, and the National Council for Behavioral Health. The PR CoE is led by those with lived experience–ensuring that peer voice is at the core of their work. Peers are people in recovery from a substance use challenge, who serve a valuable role in helping persons with substance use challenges in achieving and maintaining long-term recovery. The peer-led PR CoE Steering Committee is comprised of a group of individuals in recovery from various areas across the country who work in the field and advocate for recovery, prevention, medication, and a wide range of support services. PR CoE envisions a world where the peer workforce is diverse, understood, valued, trained, and integrated across systems and has as its mission to provide training and technical assistance (TA) to build and elevate an equitable peer workforce to deliver Peer Recovery Support Services (PRSS). We accomplish this through supporting peer integration, Recovery Community Organization (RCO) capacity building, peer workforce development, and evidence-based practice dissemination. The PR CoE knows that recovery is possible and believes that there is power in the collective. It is their mission to work together toward building and strengthening the capacity of Recovery Community Organizations (PRCoE, 2021).
The PR CoE is an ongoing resource and developing new products and resources and providing training and technical assistance information on their Peer Recovery Center of Excellence website. Following is a description of some of the current work and resources available from the PR Coe.
The PR CoE Community Work & Highlights:
Building and Strengthening the Capacity of Recovery Community Organizations (RCO): Results of a Needs Assessment Across U.S. RCOs
The purpose of this multi-modal 2021 needs assessment of RCOs within the 10 Health and Human Service (HHS) Regions regions was to determine strengths and challenges across RCO setting types in order to guide the future endeavors of the PR CoE, specifically through the provision of learning collaboratives and technical assistance.
- Through the utilization of digital surveys, regional stakeholder interviews, and regional listening sessions, service and resource gaps were identified, training and technical assistance offerings were prioritized and guidance was provided for future work of the PR CoE and other entities.
- The document includes key findings from digital surveys, stakeholder interviews, and regional listening sessions.
Comparative Analysis of State Requirements for Peer Support Specialist Training and Certification in the United States
The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of state peer recovery training and certifications as well as to provide recommendations to better support those individuals seeking information about the peer support specialist certification application process.
- Developed to provide a comprehensive overview of state peer recovery trainings and certifications
- Upcoming: This information is being developed into an online database for easier access and navigation for those seeking certification
The Peers 101 Brief serves as an introduction to the concept of peer support, the impact of peer recovery support services, peer certification, and integrating peer support services into your organization. The Court Leadership Brief describes different types of peers in court settings, the roles peers plain in court, lessons from the field with examples of peers in the courts, and links to additional resources. Both briefs were developed as:
- Collaborative projects with SAMHSA’s Assistant RA for HHS Region VI, National Center for State Courts, GAINS Center, and PR CoE
- The workgroup came about in response to behavioral health leaders’ interest in incorporating PRSS into court systems
Organizations are invited to join the efforts of the PRCoE by becoming an organizational stakeholder. Stakeholders will be invited to join a monthly conversation to hear the latest news and offerings of the PR CoE; receive an invitation to various planning committees and working groups as we design trainings and other key resources for the field, and use the social media platforms of the PR CoE to promote the tremendous work of your own organization.
- Any person or group doing work in the recovery space is welcome to join.
- We hold monthly calls to facilitate networking opportunities and highlight their work, promote via social media, host them on podcast episodes, and utilized their feedback to inform new products.
The purpose of this training series is to provide recurring opportunities for peer recovery support specialists from across the country to build foundational skills that are necessary for effective peer support service provision. Six topics are covered and will be offered twice per year in order to accommodate PRSS who are new to the field and those who would like to brush up on their basics. Additionally, these trainings may serve as an option for TA requesters looking to build their skills as PRSS.
- Designed after fielding a high proportion of individual TA requests seeking certification, training towards certification, and/or general PRSS skill development
- Topics include Building Advocacy Skills; Supporting People Navigating Crisis; Exploring Multiple Pathways to Recovery; Developing Skills as Professionals; Understanding and Supporting Mental Health Experiences; and Navigating Ethics and Boundaries.
Each season brings its own set of joys, challenges, and expectations. As we get ready to celebrate another season, we are reminded to reflect and celebrate what has been accomplished and to plan what is needed next. The PRCoE is a resource for all seasons and a reminder that recovery is possible, and recovery is for everyone. The PR CoE is to be celebrated for its ongoing work of offering training and technical assistance services to peers, organizations, and communities across the country engaged in the work of recovery.
Cele Fichter-DeSando, MPM
CFD Consulting, LLC
Faces and Voices of Recovery 2022. What is Recovery Month? https://rm.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/
Peer Recovery Center of Excellence 2021. Peer Recovery Center of Excellence Index. 2021.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2022. National Recovery Month. SAMHSA. Updated July 14, 2022. https://www.samhsa.gov/recovery-month