SpeakUp ReachOut launches peer support program with Vail Health Behavioral Health
SpeakUp ReachOut, as part of its mission to reduce suicide in the Eagle Valley, is expanding its services to provide a total of 10 peer support groups, seven of which are new, to those who live or work in Eagle County. Peer support opportunities will be offered at no charge to participants, both through SpeakUp ReachOut and the Mountain Strong Peer Support Network.
Peer support is the process of giving and receiving encouragement and assistance to achieve long-term recovery. Peer support leads offer emotional support, share knowledge, teach skills, provide practical assistance, and connect people with resources, opportunities, communities of support, and other people.
“SpeakUp ReachOut’s trained peer support leads are members of our community who have their own lived experience related to the groups they will be facilitating,” said Erin Ivie, executive director of SpeakUp ReachOut. “Some topics that will be addressed include mental illness, trauma, chronic pain, sexual abuse, and suicide loss. There will also be groups to help cope with everyday stressors and a group specifically for men.”
Through peer support, SpeakUp ReachOut will bring community members together to learn and share their unique experiences. Offering opportunities for connection — one of the pillars of suicide prevention — is just one of the many benefits of peer support group programs. Other benefits include:
- Increased self-esteem and confidence
- Increased sense of control and ability to bring about changes in their lives
- Increased sense of hope and inspiration
- Increased engagement in self-care and wellness
- Increased social support and social functioning
- Decreased substance use and depression
Peer support groups also allow opportunities for connectedness by offering safe spaces, inclusive community gatherings, and meaningful social interactions. This in turn helps to reduce isolation and loneliness — both protective factors that decrease the risk for suicide attempts and death.
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The first peer support group started Saturday, March 25, with Mothers Who Lost a Child to Suicide. This will be followed with three more groups that begin this week: a 5-week Suicide Loss Support Group, Let’s Talk About “That” for whatever is weighing on your mind, and Stuck in a Rut! — Managing Life specifically for men. Meeting times, meeting frequencies and locations — including a few virtual options — will vary.
SpeakUp ReachOut believes everyone has a unique story to tell and that those stories can help to heal others.
“For some of our most vulnerable populations, peer support may be the only way they seek support. Peer support is vital to expanding our behavioral health system capacity and overall reach,” Ivie said.
To learn about all of the peer support group programs available and to register for a group for free, please visit Speakupreachout.org/community-meetings.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call Your Hope Center at 970-306-HOPE (4673) or Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-8255.
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