We empower people impacted by mental illness, especially people with limited social networks, to engage in community life. We serve them through our socialization program, Creating Connections, Peer Outreach Services program, and peer-run drop-in centers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Our staff members offer training, volunteer opportunities, support groups, case management and special activities.
Our goal is to change lives by improving our participants’ levels of independence, socialization, life skills and mental illness management. We engage people to come into our programs as a first step toward reclaiming their place in the community.
Understanding and securing mental health services can be very difficult. In the Peer Outreach Services program, we hire people impacted by mental illness who are doing well in their own recovery to serve as peer support specialists. They provide community outreach and educational services to adults with mental illness.
Peer support specialists educate and train others about accessing community resources, housing programs, employment options, money management, wellness recovery action plans, social/recreational outlets, self-maintenance techniques, transportation mediums, and other social services. Many of the participants in the program are individuals who have been disenfranchised and are experiencing extreme difficulty in navigating the mental health system and have a tendency to isolate themselves from others.
A significant difference between a peer support specialists and a traditional social worker is that these are individuals who “have been there” and can directly relate and identify with the program participants. This situation results in a strong bond forming between the specialist and the participants, making it easier to connect them with needed resources. As one might imagine, the peer support specialists serve as a type of mentor to the participants; thus, showing them that it is possible to manage and overcome one’s mental illness.
The workers also serve as examples to our community as a whole and assist with the movement of de-stigmatizing mental illness through their positive presence, work efforts and ability to assist others who are struggling with the management of their own mental illness.
We offer socialization opportunities, support, skill building, and volunteer or employment opportunities for people experiencing mental illness and co-occurring disorders in Tulsa County and the Oklahoma City area.
A peer employee or “friendly peer” is in charge of planning social activities and picking participants up from their homes for scheduled activities. They often live in relative isolation and have infrequent social contact due to their illness, or fear of the stigma associated with their illness. The peer employee works in coordination with providers and family to form a social-support network. The peer often assists the consumer with advocacy, treatment system navigation, and general case management needs.
This approach has been proven to positively impact the overall quality of life and mental health of the people we serve, including feelings of social connectedness and community engagement, increased self-esteem, and decreased social anxiety.
In Tulsa and Oklahoma City, we operate peer-run drop-in centers that offer a family atmosphere for adults experiencing the challenges of homelessness and mental illness.
The drop-in centers offer a variety of services, including facilitated educational and social groups. One of the major goals is to help promote self-determination in our participants, so they can take control of their recovery.
Groups offer participants the opportunity to learn valuable life skills through focusing on topics, such as self-esteem, socialization, recovery from drugs and alcohol abuse, managing mental illness, accessing community resources, and living with PTSD, among others. Because some participants are experiencing homelessness, many of them require assistance meeting basic needs. These individuals may not know how to access critical resources in the community and they often lack a voice to advocate for them. To make a difference in their lives, our staff members provide case management for participants seeking housing, jobs, resume assistance, health and mental health screenings, and more.
All services are nonclinical and voluntary. We empower participants to pursue their own recovery to rebuild their lives through participant-run programs and the friendship, support, and understanding of peers.
Our support groups in Tulsa and Oklahoma City offer participants a place to come together with others going through the same issues. They share stories and experiences with people who understand what they are going through better than anyone else because they have been there, too. Together, they help each other in ways no one else can.
We offer free support groups related to depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder and grieving the death of someone to suicide or violence. In addition, our Parents Supporting Parents Support Group helps caregivers of loved ones impacted by mental illness.