Editor’s note: Every month, the team at Ravenwood Health posts about a mental health topic. This month, Deb Kowal, Peer Supporter at Ravenwood Health engages in a Q & A on what it’s like to be a peer supporter.

Q: We’ve learned that you are a Peer Supporter to about eighteen individuals! What does a “day in the life” look like for you at Ravenwood Health?

A: Clients are referred to me by their therapists or someone from our Community Psychiatric Supportive Treatment team. These individuals receive mental health and addiction support. Together, we attend social group meetings throughout our community.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services explains what we do well: “Community-based services for people with a mental illness or substance use disorder … activities that promote recovery, self-determination, self-advocacy, well-being and independence.”

Q: How did you become a Certified Peer Support Specialist in Ohio?

A: A couple of years ago, I completed forty hours of classroom studies and sixteen hours of online coursework. I also attend workshops and conferences to keep my certification – and overall knowledge – current.

Q: What activities do you complete to support our clients in recovery?

A: We are often called upon to help ASAP, immediately supporting a therapeutic environment – whether or not onsite or in another comfortable and appropriate location.

I give hope for a healthier recovery for female adults. Many of our clients are new to our Medication Assisted Treatment Program, and Peer Support is almost a necessity. Our other Peer Supporter visits with our adult male clients.

What’s most important is that we create a supportive relationship and open conversation.

Q: We’ve noticed that you’re quite creative, as seen at our Annual Ravenwood Health Art Show. What do you fill your downtime with when not in Peer Support mode?

A: Creativity for me, is a form of relaxation. My sister-in-law owns a fiber arts studio, which has become a place where women share their talents and stories. It’s like an old-fashioned quilting bee. This is essentially where I developed my passion for making a very detailed quilt. It took me six years, but I am happy with the way it turned out!

Q: What would you like to share with our community about Ravenwood Health?

A: Back in January 2010, my relationship began with Ravenwood Health. Moving ahead exactly six years, I became a Driver for our agency. In July of 2017, I began my position as a Peer Supporter.

At Ravenwood Health, we really are fortunate to be able to provide such diversified services to our clients. As a Geauga resident, I see firsthand how we impact our community with such life-changing programs.

Deb is currently reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.