My favorite broadcasts are often the programs where people experiencing mental health disorders are our guests; it seems as if they are so often the people with the infectious grins and the sense of humor that bubbles out, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the turmoil they have experienced. On this broadcast of Not Alone, our guests were not only delightful, sparkling personalities, they were bright and articulate, as they confidently described their health challenges, their expectations from themselves concerning their life, and their future hopes for all people experiencing psychiatric disorders. Each one agreed Peer Support has made the Big Difference in life.
Gayle Bluebird has been an inspiring friend to The Kim Foundation and to Not Alone for a long time. It was a privilege to welcome her to this week’s broadcast. Gayle became a leader in the consumer mental health movement in the 1970s, when, as a young girl, she experienced severe depression. Instead of receiving treatment that aided recovery, Gayle was further traumatized by the abusive custodial care provided. She learned the importance of being an advocate for her own wellness, and since that time, has taken leadership in developing peer healing opportunities for other people.
Today’s guest was Lenora Kimball, a nationally recognized leader in the peer support movement for mental health care. Peers are people with a lived, personal experience with mental illness who help one another face their fears, give respect, and encourage healing. Peers relate on a personal level, giving a unique and highly valuable perspective.
Some weeks our Not Alone broadcasts truly hit a responsive chord with listeners. Judging by the response we’ve received, our March 8 broadcast may be destined to become an all time favorite.
Our three guests were trained peer specialists; people who have faced treatment and lack of treatment, loss of family and friends, and the overwhelming sense of despair that can become part of chronic mental illness.