A Bouquet of Marigolds and Peach Blossoms

Marigold Health gives flowers to one of Delaware’s first Certified Peer Specialists

Marigold Health is growing! We are excited to announce that Marigold is now available for AmeriHealth Caritas Delaware plan members. As the newest and only digital and virtual peer support provider in our president’s home state, peer specialists, like myself, will work one-on-one and in groups with our peers in treatment and recovery. 

Delaware has a fantastic peer support community, and I was fortunate to have a (virtual) sit down interview with one of the state’s very first peers, Karen DiNardo. As a current peer specialist working in Delaware, Karen and others have paved the way for me and future peer specialists.  In this blog we’ll learn more about peer specialists and the impact they have in Delaware, through Karen’s words. 

For those reading this that have no prior knowledge of peer support, what is it that you would like them to know?  

I would encourage them to educate themselves first on what peers do, and the fact that there are scientific facts which support this profession. I would also take them through my story. There is so much stigma associated with mental health issues and substance use that they find it amazing that what they call “addicts” or people that were in psychiatric facilities can work. Anyone can work! 

Have you dealt with stigma? If so, how have you handled it? 

Part of my responsibility is to do outreach with providers when they're starting to implement peer specialists in their workplace, and we talk about that. When people hear that a person is in recovery from addiction or a mental health problem, they think of that person in their worst time, that there is no possible way that an individual like that can lead a productive life. So, by us having “peer” in our name, it's our opportunity to turn that around to let people know that there is the possibility of recovery.  

I can imagine a lot has changed in the years you have spent working as a peer specialist. What changes have made the biggest impact in the state? 

The use of peers positively effects the relationships that clients have with their clinicians. I think for all of us it is human nature to want to have a connection and know that somebody knows exactly what you are going through.  A peer’s main priority is to share their personal experiences with the people that they work with. I think about how I grew up in the Catholic Church and I would always say to my mother, why do you have to meet with the priest before you get married? The priest has never been married. How the hell is he going to explain to you what to expect for marriage? 

As a peer specialist what are some experiences that stand out the most to you or have shaped who you are in this work? 

I guess the big thing is that it’s helped me to be a better person. It's helped me to have more compassion. It's helped me to understand that differences exist and they’re OK.  Also, I have learned that the power of sharing your story. Regardless of what your story is, it’s the most powerful tool a person can have! 

Here are some takeaways from our conversation: 

  • Education is key! It’s important to educate yourself on this evidence-based practice. Check out our past blog post to get started!

  • Peer support has come a long way and continues to grow and expand! 

  • Everyone's experience and journey hold value and can be used in a positive way to equally benefit ourselves and others. 

Thank you, Karen for taking the time to speak with me and for sharing your experiences and insight with our readers! 

Click here to listen to the entire interview.

To learn more about Marigold Health and peer support, please visit www.marigoldhealth.com 

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