The Peer Concept
CHOICE is not a traditional mental health agency. It embraces the concept that those who have experienced mental illness have something special to offer those who are similarly affected. There is something magical about those who have struggled with mental illness not only experiencing recovery, but using their experiences to infuse others with recovery. Individuals with mental illness deliver services to others who are struggling with a extra sense of compassion, empathy, and humanity.
At CHOICE, a “peer” is a person who is specially trained to assist clients in obtaining and maintaining vital services and benefits but who brings a unique viewpoint to the work. What distinguishes our staff is that most of us have also had personal experience with one or more of the following: mental illness, addictions, psychiatric hospitalizations or homelessness. Having had these experiences, our staff members have successfully managed these aspects of their lives. They are now able to provide professional services to others in need with a special feeling for, and understanding of, the circumstances of many of our clients. By employing people who have mental illnesses, we hope to help re-shape the stereotypes and diminish the stigma that still affects persons with mental illnesses.