My strong belief is that a person can only talk about their experience taking or not taking medication as a factor in their recovery.
A Peer Specialist should not tell their patient to stop taking medication. They should not give advice on how to wean yourself step-by-step off medication.
Any Peer Specialist who is telling their clients to discontinue medication is in effect practicing medicine without a license.
In most states in the U.S. only an M.D. can regulate the use of a patient’s medication or determine that a patient doesn’t need medication.
I’ve been in remission from schizophrenia for over 28 years precisely because I take medication. I credit this as the number-one factor that enabled me to go to graduate school obtain an M.S. and find a career I love.
For others they might not have to take medication. Everyone is different and what their body needs or doesn’t need is going to be different.
To recap: a Peer Specialist should not be practicing medicine without a license.
Last week I was asked for ideas about how to succeed in a paid Peer Specialist job. These tactics could work well at any job.
- Set boundaries between you and your clients / coworkers.
- Create workday rituals—more on this in the next blog entry.
- Focus on having conversations with your clients.
- View the relationship as an equal partnership.
- “Practice what you preach” to clients.
- Expect to have setbacks.
- Act resilient after a setback—see my blog entry on using FORCE.
- Set career goals you want to achieve.
- Take walks with your clients should you be able to.
In the words of Pat Deegan Peer Advocate pioneer:
Recovery involves having “the dignity of risk” and “the right to fail.”
Too often peers can buy into the myth of self-stigma and its corollary feeling that we’re not good enough. This is an impossible standard that peers are held to that people who don’t have a mental health issue aren’t held to.
This thinking can be reinforced by outsiders or by ourselves.
I would say the two top tactics for any career are to set boundaries and to set job and career goals. The third tactic is creating daily rituals.