Welcome! You are not Alone!
We are family members, or caregivers with children with special health care needs. It is our lived experience as a family member that set us apart. We promote recovery and wellness in our loved ones and ourselves through the concepts of hope, self-advocacy, education, peer support, personal responsibility and resiliency. We believe that these concepts are universal regardless of what recovery program you may chose. We are a member based organization with a board of directors and staff. Our main office is located in Ennis, Montana, our staff and board of directors are located across Montana.
What is a Family Peer Supporter?
A Family Peer Supporter is a parent or caregiver with lived experience raising a child with a behavioral health challenge and/or special healthcare need along with training who provides support to another parent or caregiver who is currently raising a child with a behavioral health challenge and/or special healthcare need. The Family Peer Supporter works directly with the parent or caregiver, not the child, providing emotional support, resources, and connection to community.
What does a Family Peer Supporter do?
- engages in empathetic listening and promotes positive feelings towards utilizing services
- provides flexible, community-based peer support services designed to promote wellness, empowerment, and resiliency
- provides insight and hope
- validates and normalizes feelings of fear and confusion through a shared lived experience
- connects families with community resources and follows up to provide continued support
- helps parents develop natural supports and positive approaches for addressing their family’s day to day needs
- encourages parents to adopt and prioritize self care strategies for themselves
Types of Support
Emotional Support– provides connection from people who have “been there.”
Informational Support- includes providing connections to resources, making referrals, and giving information about the children’s health system.
Educational Support- focuses on helping you understand your child's needs, increasing your knowledge and skills, and guiding you in accessing your natural supports.
Concrete Support- includes things such as helping arrange childcare and transportation, finding support groups, and assistance in developing recovery plans.
Montana currently has many organizations and individuals providing Family Peer Support. However, we often work separately and aren’t connected to each other. Montana also does not have certification or required training for Family Peer Supporters. In addition, our work is not billable by Medicaid or private health insurance. The purpose of the Family Peer Support Task Force is to identify the needs and develop the fundamental elements necessary to grow and maintain a sustainable Family Peer Support workforce in Montana. Unique to this Task Force, we are bringing together families and providers of children with all special healthcare needs, including behavioral.
Goals of the Family Peer Support Task Force
- Define Family Peer Support scope of practice and code of ethics
- Develop Family Peer Support core competencies and training standards
- Determine CEU’s and clinical supervision
The purpose of the Family Peer Support Steering Committee is to take the information developed in the Task Force and make final decisions recommendations made by the Task Force.
The Steering Committee meeting every 2nd Wednesday immediately following the Task Force meeting and the 4th Wednesday of every month at noon.
The Family Supporter Committee is working toward the development of a Family Peer Supporter workforce and certification process to support those with children in the behavioral health system in Montana.
Family Forum Events
Montana Circle of Parents
Family Forum Blog
We most often hear about radical acceptance in the context of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) but the concept can be applied with other therapies as well. Part of radical acceptance is acknowledging our thoughts about ourselves even if we aren’t in the right space to challenge those thoughts directly as with DBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Here at MPN, all of the Peer Supporters, both in the Family Division and Recovery Division, are tasked with writing an article, or a blog, about the month’s topic. This month’s topic is Radical Acceptance. I had never heard this term before. Many of you may be in the same situation. It is to you that I share what I learned.
For most of my life, I avoided reality. At the time, I didn’t know this was what I was doing. I would have said I was helping or fixing or taking charge or being strong or managing. I felt that I was in control. I thought my tactics would move me forward, but, in fact, they did not. They kept me stuck. You could tell I was stuck by my often-used phrases of “This isn’t fair!” or “Why did this happen to me?” I constantly wished things were different, that I was a different person with a different life. My thoughts and reflections about life and myself included words such as “should”, “ought”, and “must.”
You have probably heard that computers, phones, social media, and other apps are bad for your mental health. That can definitely be an issue as many things in our lives can affect our mental health. In general, too much of just about anything can be problematic. There are various ways in which technology can adversely affect us but there are great things that technology can do for us.
Mental Health Awareness month, what a beautiful way to bring awareness to a very important topic. Growing up I considered mental health to be very extreme mental health disorders. For example, depression/suicide, substance abuse/addiction, or diagnosis/personality disorders. Also, feeling statements that were commonly heard and used were simply happy, mad, and sad. Mental health is so much more complex than the ones I listed. I now believe those are the extremes, because mental health hasn’t/hadn’t ever been addressed. Navigating something within ourselves, without the knowledge and words, leads to a recipe for disaster.
I recently learned about the 8 Dimensions of Wellness. Before I dive into these, I first want to define what “wellness” means. Wellness is the “act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes.1” For many people, wellness is associated with physical health, but not necessarily with mental health. I know that was true for me for much of my life. By taking stock of different areas of my life and consciously making a plan for how to improve these various aspects, I can increase my quality of life. I am just starting this journey myself and have a ways to go, but I believe with guidance from these dimensions, I can make some improvements in myself.
Parents and children may be dealing with Behavioral Health Issues, Mental Health, and Special Healthcare Needs and we have a lot of plates spinning in the air at once. How do we cope with our children’s mental health? Some of our children have ADD, ADHD, Autism, Anxiety, PTSD, Panic Disorders or Bipolar disorder. There are so many diagnoses that I won’t name them all. People can’t physically see mental health issues, so they are often not talked about.
Check out stickers and other resources for Mental Health Awareness Month and Children’s Mental Health Acceptance Week!
Before we can accept that mental health is important and affects our kids, we have to acknowledge it, talk about it, and address the issues surrounding it. We have to fight against the stigma. We have to recognize mental illness as the physical illness it is and not a character defeat.
Forgiveness should be a journey, not a destination. What I mean by that is, whether we need to forgive ourselves, friends/family, or people who have wronged us in our life, that can be very difficult task. That physical pain we felt, the emotional toll we went through, and the way our bodies grasped those feelings and held onto to them tight, it can feel like something you will truly never get over. The old saying goes, “Time heals everything.” Well, it sure doesn’t.