Author: Jim Hajny

About Clifford Beers

May is Mental Health Awareness month. Once upon a time that meant something. May is now arthritis, walking, women’s health care month, better sleep month, Asian Pacific Islander, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and brain tumor awareness month. Those are all important issues to recognize. But mental health awareness month was started in 1949 by Clifford Beers of Mental Health America. MHA is the country’s oldest mental health advocacy organization. Clifford Beers (March 30, 1876 – July 9, 1943) was the founder of the American mental hygiene movement. (Wikipedia.com) He was a peer. He was the original peer supporter and advocate in the recovery movement. Clifford Beers was a ground breaker. Laying the foundation for organizations like Montana’s Peer Network.

Reality Check

by Jim Hajny, Executive DirectorApril 9, 2024Idaho legislature set to pass bill on electroconvulsive therapy for 12 year olds.This came across my desk from the national coalition on mental health recovery. I had to read it a couple of times to make sure I understood what it said. If you click on the link below…
Read more

Emotional Support is Enough

Over the years MPN has led several pilot projects where we provide peer support to a particular population or in a particular community. We collect data directly from the participants through small surveys after every peer support encounter. The survey is anonymous and is offered to the individuals who are receiving the services. We ask a limited number of questions to not be burdensome but not too few to be incomplete. Data collect drives the pilot project and assists us in creating the model for peer support in crisis teams, family settings, support groups, etc. We have been doing this for more than ten years. In every one of the pilot projects the data says the same thing. Emotional support is the number one benefit. Yes, other boxes get checked but emotional support is consistently the most common. In our recent Family Peer Support Project 77% of the peer support encounters were for emotional support while second was social support at 23%.

Depression Awareness and Screening Month

Depression was the first diagnosis that I received from a counselor. It was nearly three decades ago but it was the first. I would receive others over the years, but you never forget your first.


When we are not well, we don’t have the opportunity to get to know ourselves. We are consumed by our own darkness. Once we begin the journey of recovery the light begins to find its way in and we often begin to ask, who am I. What do I like? What do I want to do with my time, my life? We may find we need to let go of friends we hung out with. We may find we have lots of extra time to fill but unsure how to fill it. This is where I encourage the idea of volunteerism.

Supporting the Supporter

Keeping your CBHPSS supported in their recovery is vital for retaining your employee long term. By the very definition, “Behavioral health peer support” means the use of a peer support specialist’s personal experience with a behavioral health disorder to provide support, mentoring, guidance, and advocacy and to offer hope to individuals with behavioral health disorders.” Your employee is a person who is in recovery. This means they are actively working on themselves, which may include peer support groups, medication, counseling, meditation, a regiment of diet and exercise, journaling and the list goes on and on. As their employer you may be thinking, “Where do I fit in?”

Hiring Peer Support Staff

Candidates often put on their best self, can embellish their credentials, and say what we want to hear. This provides us with false knowledge about a candidate and ultimately a decision which will cost the organization time, energy and dollars. Hiring the wrong person can lead to hours of retraining, coaching, and documenting an employee who will eventually be let go only to restart the process again. Then there is the shrinking workforce nationally. There simply are not as many people to fill healthcare related jobs. Getting it right the first time is important for any organization.