Peer support is all about collaboration. This includes working together with the individuals we serve, but also with other agencies and resources. To make this happen however, you need to know what’s out there.
More than that, you need to know how to connect with those resources.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about building a solid resource list. Believe me, this little known secret that will make your life as a peer specialist so much easier!
Table of Contents
Why you need a resource list
As a peer support specialist, you will have many responsibilities. One of them being, connecting individuals with additional resources and support. Simple enough right? Well, this is where things actually start to get a bit tricky.
One, each person will have their own unique needs a preferences. In other words, what works for one person, may not work for the next. Two, there is a constant change in the availability of resources and support.
And thats just the beginning.
However, imagine having a comprehensive go-to list that covers all the available resources and services your clients could ever need. It would be nice wouldn’t it?
Well, unfortunately this isn’t something you can find on Amazon. But, you can put one together yourself and the best part is, it’s free!
Yes, it takes some effort and a little bit of time. That being said, once you have it, you will wonder how you ever lived without it.
Don’t get me wrong, your personal experiences are an invaluable asset, that is for sure.
However, a resource list acts as a reliable companion on your journey as a peer support specialist. It expands your reach and equips you with a diverse array of tools and information. Which in turn, enables you to address a wide range of needs and offer comprehensive support.
Not only that but it will save you so much time and energy.
The Perks Of Having A Resource List In Peer Support
Just in case your still not sold on the idea of building a resource list, let’s take a minute to talk about the benefits. If your ready to get started, feel free to skip to the next section.
Having a list makes things easy
Starting this process from scratch with each new person can get exhausting. If you have worked in this field for any amount of time, then you know how stressful it can be trying to track down resources.
Calling numerous agencies, scouring the web for something that works; it takes a lot of time and can honestly be kind of frustrating.
With a resources list however, it becomes a breeze.
A quick look through your list, and you have everything you need to help the person in front of you. Which is nice, because this lets you focus more on providing personalized support and guidance.
A Personalized Touch
As mentioned before, each person has unique needs and preferences. Having a curated list allows you to match each individual with relevant resources that fit those needs.
This is especially relevant when it comes to cultural competency. The last thing you want to do is refer someone to a place that doesn’t agree with their values. Imagine asking for help and then being sent somewhere that directly or indirectly sends the message that your beliefs or lifestyle choices are wrong.
Not only would it not be helpful, it might do more harm than good.
Having a comprehensive list of available resources allows you to quickly connect individuals with culturally relevant support. At the end of the day, this is the ethical and compassionate thing to do.
Learning and Collaboration
Your list also serves as a networking tool because you can collaborate and connect with others in the field. By exchanging resources and information, you can build relationships and continue to expand not only your list, but you knowledge and opportunities as well.
Not to mention, this allows you to collaborate with individuals as to the next step in their recovery.
The Power Of Choice
Never underestimate the power of choice. When individuals feel like they are involved in the decision making process, they become more engaged in their recovery.
By providing a wide range of options, we are handing them the power to direct their own lives.
Many of the individuals we work with come from backgrounds where choices were taken from them. This is our opportunity to give them back.
Who knew a resource list could have such an impact?
Creating A Comprehensive Resource List
Now that your sold on the idea of building a resource list, its time to explore how to actually create one. This section will guide you through the essential steps involved in curating a comprehensive and effective list.
Step One: Identify Essential Categories
The first step in creating a resource list is to identify the essential categories that will serve as the foundation of your list. Consider the diverse needs and interests of the individuals you support and categorize resources accordingly.
Here are some key categories to consider:
Include information about local mental health clinics, counseling centers, and therapists. Provide details such as contact information, specialties, and any unique programs they offer.
Compile a list of support groups focused on specific mental health conditions, substance abuse, and anything that even might be relevant. Remember, you never know what someone might need. Include both in-person and online options, along with meeting schedules and facilitator contact information.
Gather resources such as informative articles, books, websites, and podcasts. Again, if you think a client could benefit from it, put it on the list. Include materials suitable for various age groups and cultural backgrounds.
Provide contact information for crisis hotlines, helplines, and local emergency services. Make sure to include both general mental health support lines and specialized resources for specific populations, such as youth or veterans.
Collect the numbers for local agencies such as the DMV, Social Security Office, Income Support Division etc. These numbers will come in handy and while they are easy to find, having them all in one place makes it that much simpler.
Leave a section for random resources that pop up along the way. This might include things like free classes at a community college or day care services. Really, this will greatly depend on where you live and what time of year it is.
Step Two: Gathering And Evaluating Resources
Once you have identified the categories, it’s time to gather resources that fit within each category. Remember, not all resources are equal, some may be easier to work with than others. Take the time to figure out which ones are reputable and work with the population you serve.
Here are some effective strategies for finding and evaluating resources:
Utilize reputable websites, professional organizations, and mental health databases to find reliable resources.
Make sure they are up to date and still operating. Sometimes websites have resources listed that have either shut down, or changed their numbers.
Additionally, explore state and city websites. They often have resource lists of their own you can chose from or copy all together. Again, make sure they are up to date. These lists are notorious for being over a year or so old.
In the helping community, a lot can change in a year.
Recommendations And Referrals
Seek recommendations from fellow peer support specialists, mental health professionals, and trusted community members. Honestly this is probably the best source of information.
Because of their firsthand experience, they can help identify resources that may not be widely known.
Even better, they can give you an idea of how the resources work. If possible, ask about eligibility requirements and any inside tips they may have. Sometimes there are inside tracks to obtaining assistance if you know how to go about it.
Within the boundaries of confidentiality of course, they may also be able to tell you whether or not individuals have had good experiences working with these resources. Unfortunately, sometimes a resource can have a bad name for the way they treat a people.
Step Three: Organizing And Managing The List
The final step in creating a comprehensive resource list is getting everything organized. While it does’t take as long as finding the information, it can be a little tedious. Here are a few things to consider, which may help with the process.
Choosing A Format
Decide on a format that best suits your needs and preferences. It can be a digital document, spreadsheet, or a notebook that is broken down into sections. However, using either Exel or Google Sheets makes it easy to update and sort information.
Inside of whatever format you choose, keep information organized along with important details. What need to include will greatly depend on where you are working and what responsibilities you have.
That being said, let’s some of the more important bits of information.
- Name of Group/Agency
- Contact Info (Phone, Address, Website)
- Services Offered
- Application Process (Link to application/Relevant details about the process)
When it comes to educational resources, it’s easiest to organize them by format. These might include books, podcasts, websites, and videos.
- Title of resource
Staying Up To Date
As mentioned before, resources can change fairly regularly. Commit to regularly updating your resource list to keep it relevant and accurate. You might consider setting aside time every few months to review my list and remove, or add to it if necessary.
By keeping your resource list up to date, you position yourself as a reliable source of information and support, further enhancing your credibility as a peer support specialist.
Don't Forget To Share
Your list shouldn’t be a secret! Sharing your list with others in the field can strengthen your working relationships. Besides, you may be able to trade and find new resources for your own list.
By following these steps, you can create a resource list that lines up the specific needs of the individuals you support. Not to mention, you can develop working relationships that can be beneficial to your career.
Elijah Meason is a Certified Peer Support Worker in the State of New Mexico. He is a SMART Recovery facilitator and is working toward getting his Masters degree in social work. He is currently working at a dual diagnosis treatment center helping individuals overcome mental health and addiction challenges.