Strength in Peers believes community members can help one another access services and advocate for changes that better meet their needs. Our organization’s mission is to close gaps in services using community engagement and peer-to-peer approaches.
Target Area and Need
Our organization serves populations at-risk of having unmet mental health needs, including homeless populations, low-income households, and ex-offenders. Strength In Peers’ focus is on Harrisonburg/Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Page Counties in northwestern Virginia. Barriers to mental health and social services include provider shortages, lack of knowledge about available services, affordability, transportation, and the stigma of seeking services.
What is Peer Support?
According to the DBSA, peer support is the act of people who have had similar lived experiences with mental illnesses and substance use, giving each other encouragement, hope, assistance, guidance, and understanding to aid in recovery.
Certified Peer Support Specialists have a unique insight into how to reach and help others and their families. They are trained to help others achieve personal goals, build confidence, develop coping skills, and navigate community services. Engaging and developing the capacity of peers to provide support, mentorship, coaching, and other assistance is a less costly and more effective way to improve service utilization and outcomes.
Harrisonburg/Rockingham County: Strength In Peers combines case management, mental health and substance abuse services, housing assistance, and peer support to assist ex-offenders re-entering Rockingham County and Harrisonburg.
Shenandoah and Page Counties: Certified Peer Support Specialists are able to provide assistance understanding anxiety, depression, and substance abuse problems as well as reaching and maintaining recovery goals. Our peers help clients with a special focus on individuals experiencing anxiety, depression, and substance abuse issues.
Future Generations: Strength In Peers is a member of the Future Generations Global Network of community-based organizations. Established in 1992, this network has developed world-encircling experience facilitating and scaling-up equitable community change. Its method is to activate empowerment at the community level and building from community successes to strengthen what is working. To do so, the Global Network has developed skills in utilizing peer-networks. Future Generations includes an accredited Graduate School that offers a Master’s degree in Applied Community Change and connects to community change practitioners in Afghanistan, Canada, China, Haiti, India, and Peru to share knowledge, experiences, and best practices.
Shenandoah Mental Health Network: Strength In Peers also coordinates the Shenandoah Mental Health Network that provides guidance and assistance with program planning, implementation, and partnerships in Shenandoah and Page Counties. Members include: Concern Hotline, Family Promise of Shenandoah County, Northwestern Community Services Board, Response, Sentara RMH Medical Center, Shenandoah Community Health Clinic, Shenandoah County Pregnancy Center, Strength In Peers, United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley, and Valley Health System.