Recovery and peer support, or the medical model. Why must it be “either/or”?

Today’s post is from Pete Earley’s blog. There is yet another battle currently being waged in the United States, this time over the appointment of the Assistant Secretary of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. The introductory paragraph is clear as to what issues are at stake.

Harvey Rosenthal: The “Worried Well” – A False Narrative Meant To Divide


(5-15-17) I bumped into Harvey Rosenthal recently at the National Council on Behavioral Health Care convention in Seattle and invited him to write a guest blog. Harvey is Executive Director of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services and one of the best known advocates for recovery and peer support services. Given what seems to be a constant battle being waged between the “medical model” that focuses on medication adherence and the “recovery model” that focuses on peer support and other social services, I thought it would helpful to hear his point of view, especially because a new Assistant Secretary of Mental Health and Substance Abuse will soon be appointed.)

Re-Balancing Federal Policy Need Not Have To Choose Between Extremes


For far too long, advocates for court mandated outpatient commitment have promoted the false narrative that recovery, rehabilitation and peer support providers and advocates don’t want to serve Americans with the most serious conditions…..and that our motivation in supporting the redirection of public funds from hospital to community is simply to capture public dollars for our own purposes. In contrast, these groups have outrageously played upon unfounded connections between violence and mental illness to promote a singular one-size-fit-all prescription of “more meds, more beds and more coercion.”

Along the way, these groups have promoted beliefs that a recovery and rehab focus only applies to the ‘worried well’ and excludes the most distressed, that peer support is inevitably against treatment and medication and that rights advocates are only interested in helping people in the greatest need to avoid such treatment?In recent years, subscribers to these beliefs have succeeded in capturing the attention and support of conservative Republicans, think tanks and the tabloids. They have heavily informed the efforts of self-styled mental health reformer Rep. Tim Murphy and are apparently poised to see the appointment of an apparently like-minded first HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health Services.

Advocates across our spectrum must join together to educate both the Senate that will be confirming the first HHS Secretary Read the rest of the post here



What is this – national peer week?

On my walk today during lunch hour, I got to thinking about the evaluation I just completed for the Families Healing Together family recovery course. There was a question on it something about “I know where to find peer support in my community.” At first, I was going to answer “strongly disagree,” because I am not really part of my community even after living here sixteen years and I don’t know what services it has beyond the hospital program that I ran away from as fast as I could. Not being entirely fluent in the local language, I am hesitant to join support groups, etc. Actually, I take that back, I don’t want to join support groups, the language barrier is just an excuse. I really don’t need an excuse any more, because I finally got to the point where I can say without irony, I am my best support.

But, then I looked again at the question, and realized, that yes, I do know where to find peer support in my community for my son Chris. I clicked with confidence on the radio button “strongly agree.” Chris has plenty of peer support that he has relied on through the years. He has his friends in choir and musical theater, he has his holistic helpers like the sound therapist that he saw four years ago (a guy who speaks his language and knows a healing path). He has his girlfriend, “Jenny.”

Coincidentally, Sera Davidow writes on the topic of peer support over at the Mad in America site. I must admit, it took me a while to figure out the complexity of her thinking on this subject, but I realize I must have come to the same conclusions as Sera when I wrestled with the radio button choice.  “Peer does not mean ‘someone receiving services.’ It means people who exist as a part of a community of some sort and who share commonalities and relationships with one another.”

To be amongst one’s peers is to be amongst one’s equals.