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Chippewa Falls (WQOW)- When you need support, it's better to hear from someone who can relate. That's the idea behind a new effort in Chippewa County to help those with mental illness.
"We deal with people with serious depression all the way to schizophrenia," says Sue Klinger with Chippewa County Human Services.
Chippewa County and Chippewa River Industries are working together to help those with mental illness. The plan is to spend grant money on five peer specialists.
"A peer specialist is someone who themselves has a mental illness and really helps them connect with their community as part of their entire recovery process," explains CRI CEO Dave Lemanski.
CRI currently employs many people with mental illnesses, helping give them the tools to live independently. Peer specialists will tell their own personal stories to help counsel others.
"You have to be willing to talk about your recovery," Klinger says. "You have to be willing to come out and say I've had a mental health background, crisis. I've had issues myself."
Chippewa County says applicants will be subjected to a few different standards in order to qualify. First of all, you need to be at least 18 years old, have either a high school diploma or a GED, and that you've also had a mental illness at one point in your life, and to also prove that you haven't had a crisis for at least the last 12 months, you've been crisis free.
Those who qualify and get selected will then work with those in the program to implement a support plan designed specifically for each individual.
"They will come up with their own individual ideas of what it is that they feel that they might need help with. It could be anything from scheduling to make sure that they get to doctor's appointments to just making sure I get wake-up calls every day," Klinger explains.
"As professionals, we always think we know best," Lemanski says. "But often times, its people who have actually received the service that can help others receiving similar services get through the system and so it's a great approach to helping people with chronic mental illnesses and we are looking forward to starting the service as soon as possible."
Chippewa County says it hopes to fill those peer specialist positions by September. If you are interested in applying, you can find more information at http://www.crind.org and click on employment opportunities.
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