Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network programs in the Augusta GA area
"Double Trouble in Recovery"
And "Georgia Peer Mentors"
Published in the NAMI Augusta Azalea newsletter, June 2010
The Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network (GMHCN) is based in Decatur, Georgia. This nonprofit agency is run by and for consumers. It offers many programs that NAMI Augusta helps to support and publicize, including the Certified Peer Specialist training and the statewide "Warm Line."
Gena Brock is a state leader of two of GMHCN's programs: "Double Trouble in Recovery" and "Georgia Peer Mentors." Locally In Augusta, NAMI Augusta's own Board Member Harvey Barksdale is employed by both of these programs.
Double Trouble in Recovery (DTR) is a twelve-step fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so that they may solve their common problems and help others to recover from their particular addictions and mental health problems. The facilitators of Double Trouble are also dually diagnosed. They implement the benefit of one dually diagnosed person helping another.
Double Trouble in Recovery was introduced to the Atlanta metro area in 1996. The idea was to have drop-in centers for the homeless so they would have a place to go during the Olympics. In the past 12 years Double Trouble has grown immensely to 42 meetings in the metro Atlanta area. In 2007 Double Trouble went statewide. There are 2 meetings in all the Georgia Regional hospitals and several meetings in the communities surrounding the hospitals, including Augusta.
Georgia Peer Mentors are employed in another GMHCN program. (It is completely separate and unrelated to another volunteer program you might have heard about called NAMI Peer to Peer Mentors.) GMHCN employs two Georgia Peer Mentors for each of the Georgia public state psychiatric hospitals (the Georgia Regional system).
Here in Augusta, the two Peer Mentors are Harvey Barksdale and Vicki Keiser. They assist peers in becoming independent instead of dependent on the hospitals. The mentors assist in the transition from being hospital inpatients to finding community resources.
Harvey and Vanessa are currently serving 31 peers in Region 2 all over east central Georgia. Harvey reports that in Region 2, 98% of the peers they have served are successfully staying out of the hospital. "The mentors are living examples that a person with a mental illness can live in free society and have a productive life," says Harvey. "We are the evidence!"