Meridian receives $30,000 Evergreen grant

May 05, 2014

Meridian Behavioral Health Services, Inc., a local, nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive mental health and substance abuse services, was recently awarded a $30,000 grant to offer innovative training to its Peer Support Specialists (PSS) workforce.

Unlike other types of professionals who have participated in training programs through educational institutions, PSS are often hired based solely on their lived experience with mental health and substance abuse challenges, leaving provider organizations, like Meridian, with the responsibility for supporting them in the development of their professional skills. Currently, North Carolina requires one week of peer employment training as well as 40 hours of additional training in order for an individual to attain certification as a NCPSS. The grant awarded by the Evergreen Foundation will fund the following training opportunities for peers:

— Peer employment trainer training: qualifies a PSS to provide 40 hours of training to individuals interested in becoming PSS;

— Advanced Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) facilitator training: qualifies a PSS to train other PSS to be WRAP facilitators;

— eCPR trainer training: qualifies a PSS to provide eCPR training which is a model for peers to follow when providing crisis support;

— WHAM training: all Meridian PSS will be trained in the WHAM curriculum by a nationally known PSS leader from Georgia. WHAM is a curriculum that is used by PSS to support individuals with co-occurring physical and mental health challenges in reaching their recovery goals.

This exhaustive training program will not only enable Meridian to develop an internal training resource that is equipped to provide new PSS with the competencies that they need to function effectively within their roles in the system, but also provide its PSS with an opportunity to develop as trainers and leaders of the peer workforce.

As a result of this training program and the recent implementation of a number of new, reimbursable PSS services (like supported employment), Meridian is planning to significantly increase its peer workforce.

The Evergreen Foundation is a local nonprofit agency that provides infrastructure support, start-up and service provision grants and scholarships that expand and improve the delivery of high quality prevention, treatment and support services to individuals with mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability challenges.

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