HIV & Behavioral Health Peer Support
In the Words of a Quest Peer Support Specialist:
Mental health, like physical health, is important to everyone’s wellness. Those of us living with HIV, however, often face a number of unique challenges to our emotional, social, spiritual, and mental health. We often deal with anxiety about real or perceived health concerns, social stigma and exclusion, current and/or past traumas, addictions, financial and relationship struggles… with all of these issues compounding and taking an enormous toll on our mental health.
Most of us know first-hand that when our mental health suffers, so too does our physical health and the wellness of our communities.
Studies show that folks living with HIV/AIDS face significant barriers to accessing effective mental healthcare; but when they do access competent care, their physical health shows a marked improvement. Quest’s HIV & Behavioral Health Peer Support program helps people access and stay engaged in mental health and substance use recovery services that best fit their lifestyle, beliefs, needs, and identity. Our Peer Support Specialists have lived experience with mental illness and addiction and understand the added complications that can come from living with HIV.
Peer support means getting help from someone who has been there.
Our work starts by looking for, and building connections between, two individuals living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. This one-on-one relationship is supported with the use of goal plans that can help develop and accomplish treatment goals. This program also offers a Peer Community Group where people with similar experiences can listen, give hope, and exchange guidance in a mutual relationship geared toward recovery and wellness.
Peer support is not magic, nor is it always quick or comfortable (however, there is always room for fun and laughter.) It requires both participants to actively engage with each other to identify what wellness means for them personally. Most of all, rather than asking “What’s wrong with you?” our Peers want to know, “What happened?”; “What’s going on right now?”; “Where would you like to go?” and “How do we get there together?”
For more information or to schedule an intake, call Katy Byrtus, Program Coordinator at 503-238-5203 or email firstname.lastname@example.org