A Year of Progress

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Throughout life’s struggles, we often can over focus on traumatic events. Something can occur where your life changes drastically and trying to find another perspective can be a grueling task. Even though I’ve been through tough times, I’ve also accomplished a lot. I made great strides with volunteering locally and earning another certification in mental health services.

11 months ago I started to volunteer. There is a peer-run coalition that host’s meetings once a month out of Oxford building in Pittsburgh. Topics for discussion center around mental health and mental health services. The coalition also works in conjunction with a large health care provider to give feedback and input with care and services. When I first started to attend these meetings, I was a bit hesitant. It was an unfamiliar situation, and I can be reserved at times. As I attended more meetings and got to know everyone in them, I felt more comfortable to share my perspective on mental health. Those I sat in meetings with I also consider to be good friends and I’ve learned from them, and they learned things from me. Volunteering in that capacity allowed me to see the voice that I have and to push through being nervous or shy to make the most out of the meetings.

I’ve talked about earning my CPS (Certified Peer Specialist title) on ASDNext before, but in addition to that, I also received my CAPS (Certified Older Adult Peer Specialist title) as well. An Older Adult Peer Specialist is someone certified to work with those 65 and older who have a mental health diagnosis. When I first heard about this training, I was interested in attending because frequently someone’s health problems, both physical and mental are summed up to age without any elaboration on the cause. The training especially highlighted risk factors for older adults that I found to be informative. Being able to add this knowledge base to my first certification (As well as earning 18 CEU’s: continuing education units to maintain my certification each year) was a great accomplishment.

One of the worst things that occurred this year was the death of my father. But I have to remember that this year was full of huge steps and that I’ve worked hard to accomplish goals that I set my sights on. Next year is looking promising as well. I know that with careful planning I can succeed with goals I’m setting for myself. I wish everyone a Happy Holiday and New Year!


Ziggy is a Certified Peer Specialist in PA and currently resides in Pittsburgh. He is a member of the Let’s Act committee, a group of peers devoted to raising awareness about mental health care. In his downtime, he enjoys reading novels and watching nature documentaries.

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