We all know the relief and feeling of being understood when we are going through something difficult and meet someone who has been in the exact same shoes. That shared lived experience is the basis of all types of peer support, including parent peer support.
Families as Allies has trained parent peer support specialists in the mental health system for the last four years through a grant with the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. Starting in July, this grant will expand to allow us to enhance the curriculum and training and work more closely together with the mental health centers and other organizations to strengthen parent peer support.
As parents and as a family-run organization, we know what a difference parent peer support makes, and we are thrilled to help parent peer support have an even bigger impact on the state. We also hope this opportunity provides a foundation on which to build a cross-systems model of parent peer support using the Federation of Families national certification model. We believe this will help ensure both the quality and fidelity of parent peer support in Mississippi.
Over the past several months, we conducted a needs assessment with children’s services coordinators and MAP team coordinators at DMH-certified agencies about parent peer support and other aspects of Families as Allies work. We were excited to learn that there is a lot of enthusiasm for parent peer support among mental health providers.
There are challenges as well. Funding streams for parent peer support are not always available or understood. There can be a mismatch between the way positions are structured and what works for parents who want to do the work. The pay scale is low and otherwise interested parents sometimes choose jobs in restaurants and other settings where they can make more money. There is role confusion between case management and parent peer support, and it appears there may be confusion between parent peer support and other types of peer support as well.
We look forward to building on this enthusiasm and also working with parent peer support specialists, providers and our state partners to address these challenges. Please share your thoughts and ideas with us and watch our events in the next few months for more opportunities to work together.
And if you are a parent who has always wanted to learn more about helping other parents, call us at 601-355-0915 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We cannot wait to talk to you!