ADMH has long valued the power of peers to support fellow consumers and promote recovery. ADMH first established the position of peer support specialists in 1994 at Greil Hospital and later expanded the program to all state facilities. In 2008, provisions were made to expand peer support services to the community provider network. The movement toward peer services led to the credentialing requirements for the certification of peer specialists. In 2016, Substance Abuse peer programs and Mental Illness peer programs merged to create the new Office of Peer Programs which is staffed by peers. The office promotes recovery by coordinating the department’s support for peer operated programs, training and educational programs.
Annual Alabama Institute for Recovery
This annual conference is organized by the Office of Peer Programs and with the assistance of Wings Across Alabama. Approximately 800 participants attend each year with more than 600 attendees awarded scholarships that would not be able to attend otherwise. This year marked the 25rd anniversary of the conference. The conference is coordinated by peers and features speakers and workshops on topics and issues of interest to individuals with mental illness. Activities during the conference also include the presentation of the annual RESPECT awards, the annual Talent Show, a candlelight vigil, a watermelon social, and a dance. This three day conference not only offers educational and inspirational tracks, but promotes opportunities for true peer camaraderie and empowerment. Medical staff from state psychiatric facilities and community mental health centers volunteer every year to be part of the Crisis Response Team. Health screenings are offered to consumers in attendance.
SA Consumer Conference
SA Consumer Conference is a yearly educational conference for substance abuse consumers throughout Alabama. The conference offers workshops and speakers on topics and issues of interest to individuals around the state recovering from substance use disorder. Most of the presenters at the conference are themselves in recovery from substance abuse. The conference is coordinated by the Office of Peer Programs but most of the planning and execution of the conference is done by consumers. In addition to educational opportunities, the conference provides opportunities for interaction with peers, empowerment and social interaction. All of the attendees receive scholarships to attend the conference.
SA Peer Conference
SA Peer Conference is a yearly state-wide educational conference for Certified Recovery Support Specialists. The purpose of the conference is to provide education on peer services, highlight peer accomplishments, allow peers to share combined knowledge experience working as a peer, promote the value of utilizing peer services, encourage collaborations, promote advocacy, and to encourage the development of consumer-operated services in communities.
The Hope Award is awarded to an individual or organization for their statewide efforts to unify and benefit the various stakeholders in the mental illness arena in Alabama.
Peer Warrior Award
The Peer Warrior Award is given each year to a Certified Recovery Support Specialist at the annual Peer Conference in June of each year. This award is a symbol of proven hard work in advocacy and peer support services to individuals with a substance use disorder.
Respect Awards are given each year to individuals who are consistently respectful and supportive to individuals with mental illness. RESPECT is an acronym for the characteristics of the recipients of the Respect Award.
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Certified Peer Specialist Training and Certified Recovery Support Specialist Training
The office coordinates the Alabama Certified Peer Specialist Training Program for individuals in recovery from mental illness and the Certified Recovery Support Specialist Training Program for individuals in recovery from substance use disorders. These trainings designed to prepare individuals; in recovery for employment as a Certified Peer Specialist in a mental health or substance abuse provider setting.
The Respect Initiative is a relatively new program that trains individuals in recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders to tell their experiences with their illnesses and how they are rebuilding their lives. It is unique in that individuals learn how to take their often confusing and overwhelming experiences with their illness and recovery and hone in on what is important to them and what they would like others to know about their experiences into a 10 minute presentation.