NC CANSO is ready to advocate for and help with the development of a state-wide network of community based and consumer operated mutual support centers (peer centers, drop-in-centers). Many indicators suggest we really need these settings. They can complement services offered through the public and private systems while offering a less restrictive, open, empowering, and safe social setting . No matter what changes our community mental health systems are undergoing, we as peers can offer such environments that help our peers weather the system changes while they grow and learn through self-help supports. Such peer centers have been operating in many states, sometimes for a couple of decades, often funded outside of the system but with public dollars. The result in our own peer center has been the reduction of hospitalizations and graduation to less intensive services as people learn skills and lean on friends as they grow!
To accomplish developing this on-the-ground centers of support, NC CANSO will need to help build more solidarity among peer specialists, other organizations, and individuals across our state who understand what it is like to live with a mental health or substance use challenge or certain other circumstances. We need to make a joint request to the Department of Health and Human Services to include the funding of peer centers as an objective for using part of the Community Mental Health Block Grant! This grant was originally created as a way to help states develop innovations that prevent people from having to depend on facility based services, including excessive hospitalization! In fact, in the state of Tennessee, there are 49 such sites developed as such an innovation using such funds! Please contact NC CANSO if you are interested in learning more about this issue or want to help us advocate.
Also, let us know if you want education on how to begin a peer center in your own community at low cost that will be a base to build on as funding comes from public and/or private sources! You can already start to improve the lives of friends in your own community!