In Calgary, Alberta, Canada, this week, a new type of mental health support center opened from the people at the Calgary Mental Health Association. It’s based on the power of peer counseling, and the concept of it is completely refreshing.
I know how I feel when I sit down with a therapist or a psychiatrist and I always wonder if they truly understand me and what I’m going through. It’s hard to feel like you have a brother/sister in arms when they don’t share a story back that tells you that they’ve been there too. There’s a trust that whoever is helping guide you, have been through the same things and has found a way to get out or past their issues to the other side. This gives you hope, and it gives you strength to do the same thing.
That’s why the concept in Calgary is exciting as the recovery center focuses on creating an environment where individuals seeking counseling connect with counselors who may have been through something similar to what they’re experiencing.
According to the CMHA Executive Director, Laura MacNeil, “The ability to gain trust with someone who’s had a similar experience. I always describe it as: if you want to train to hike a mountain here in Alberta, do you want to go with someone who’s been up that mountain and back, or someone who decided to write an article and has never been up that mountain?”
One of these peer supporters is Priscilla Cherry. She’s gone through 120 hours of training. She struggled through depression — and became suicidal — after being sexually abused as a child. It took Cherry 15 years to seek help, during which time she lived in a state of emotional isolation. She hopes to be able to put her insight and experience into helping others feel less isolated.
Laura MacNeil has put together a program that she should be very proud of and but she also knows that it all starts with having the first conversation.
“The whole idea is that you come in and have a conversation, but we [also] open up a lot of the other services that we have,” she said.
As long as someone feels the trust and bond after the initial conversation, their world becomes more open to change, and that’s when the real tangible movement gets set in motion. The power of peer counseling is real, and hopefully, the results of this new center can help push others to experience the benefits too.
If you or a loved one you know battles with any Mental Health Issues, please do get the help you need. If you need to talk to someone now, you can talk to one of the many fantastic therapists at Better Help by CLICKING HERE.
This post was created with the help of Grammarly.
Photo Credit: Fraser Valley University