BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum and First Lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum were joined today by more than 80 stakeholders, peer support specialists, people who have received peer support services and other individuals for the first-ever Peer Support Day at the Capitol.
The event highlighted peer support services in North Dakota and recognized the important work of peer support specialists, who bring hope by sharing their experiences and promoting a sense of belonging. Peer support has existed in the behavioral health field for decades but has grown rapidly in recent years.
“There is a substantial and growing amount of evidence for the effectiveness of peer support services, both in terms of quality of life and outcomes for individuals and in terms of cost savings to counties and states due to reductions in rates of hospitalization, and these efforts have the potential to make significant improvements to North Dakota’s behavioral health system,” Burgum said.
“Peer support services play such an important role in the recovery process,” Helgaas Burgum said. “The sharing of our stories can liberate not only ourselves but those who face similar struggles. Peer support capitalizes on this by channeling open communication and storytelling between the affected individual and the peer.”
Burgum said work will continue during the 2019 legislative session to enable access to peer support by providing pathways to certification for peer support specialists. The governor and first lady also thanked the Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division and its director, Pam Sagness, for training more than 100 peer support specialists so far this year. Three additional training sessions are scheduled in November and December. Learn more about the training at https://www.behavioralhealth.nd.gov/.
Participants in today’s event learned about the essential role peer support plays in recovery and how to connect with trained peer support specialists and providers. Kristy Johnson, director of housing at the F5 Project in Fargo, which provides re-entry services to individuals coming out of the criminal justice system, shared her personal story of recovery and being a peer support specialist.
The governor also signed a proclamation declaring Nov. 7, 2018, as Peer Support Day. Individuals can show their support by using the hashtag #supportpeersupport. Peer Support Day was announced during the second Recovery Reinvented event in September.