A journey and a destination. Recovery happens here!

The PEERblog

5 Awesome Recovery Toolbox Items

free toolbox clipart icons graphic 254059What supportive items are in your recovery toolbox?  As we grow in our recovery, we add specific tools (skills) to our boxes.  Below is a list of items geared to have supportive purposes to add to your toolbox.

5. Volunteering

Volunteering offers socialization, community, and skillset building, as well as a strong feeling of doing something good. “Giving back” is a term often heard. Many organizations, causes and events offer opportunities to volunteer. Volunteering can be customizable to suit a wide variety of needs. For those looking for employment, this is a great way to get your foot in the door. Places to find opportunities to volunteer include animal shelters, zoos, churches, local mental health/recovery boards, local consumer-operated services, public events, organizations, state/metro parks, schools, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and more. 

4. Google Platform

For the techies, Google Docs allows users to create documents and spreadsheets where you can log your moods, feelings, goals, notes, journals, and symptoms (similar to Microsoft Word and Excel). Save the documents to Google Drive (accessible by any Drive enabled device, download Drive online) and recall them during the appointment, or when needed. Google Calendar is also a great way to keep track of a variety of things:  appointment times, medication times, moods, feelings, hobbies, goal tracking, etc. You can also set whom you share this calendar with (if you choose to share it). Google + offers the ability to build a profile and network with individuals. You can even create or join Hangouts, where you can see the people you are talking to by the camera on their devices (similar to Skype, with the ability to add more than one person to a Hangout). The Google platform is accessible by any computer or Android or iOS device, making it very versatile. Best of all, it is free!

3. Recovery Apps for Your Smartphone and Tablet

Reachout - Social support app for people with health issues such as: cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as mental illness and substance abuse issues. Users can share and read stories and interact with each another.

PTSD Coach - By the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD, this app tracks your PTSD symptoms over time and has tools for management.

Optimism -Self-tracking for mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. Detect patterns in mood, triggers, and create a wellness plan to help manage your mental health.

SAM Self-Help for Anxiety Management - Record your anxiety levels and identify triggers. Over 20 self-help options to use for physical, emotional, and mental symptoms of anxiety. You can build a customized “toolbox” of the app’s features that work best for you. Use the social cloud feature to share your story with others.

Secret of Happiness — Has a strong focus on gratitude to relieve depression and anxiety. The app alerts you (at times you can set) to reflect and record the things in the last 24 hours that you are grateful for (evening), and your goal for the day ahead (morning).

Code Blue - Designed to provide teenagers struggling from depression or bullying with support when they need it. Users choose contacts and build their support group. The app alerts the support group that a user needs immediate help. Members of the support group reach out to the user. The app shares the user’s location with the support group and members can indicate that they are on their way to see the user in person.

Breathe2Relax (no website available) - For stress management, by walking users through breathing exercises to help to reduce stress, control anger, and manage anxiety.

2. Local Fellowship Groups

These are groups of like-minded individuals sharing similar interests. These groups can be of anything:  religious (faith-based) groups, 12-Step groups, special interest clubs (books, knitting/quilting, poetry/spoken word, photography, journaling, and social media on anything that might strike your fancy (including peer support). A great way to have conversations, share a common interests, and not feel alone.

1. Local Drop-in Recovery Center/ Consumer Operated Service (COS)

A great place were individuals in recovery with mental illness, addiction and/or trauma, can be safe, socialize, play games, watch movies, hop on a computer, sit in on a group, gain information/resources and access Peer Support. A solid solution to the hangout spot to work on what you need to. It could be one day a week, once a month, or every day!  Check with your local mental health/recovery boards for a location nearest you.

What do you use in your recovery toolbox? Please let us know in the comments below.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
1619 Hits

Why Celebrating Recovery Publicly Matters

Top SecretI used to think I was alone, that no one cared. This was supported by when I screwed up, everyone pointed it out. When I excelled well beyond their expectations, I got silence! In fact, it was as if nobody cared by the amount of success I’d worked so hard to achieve. Suddenly, my SUCCESS was TOP SECRET! So I could distance myself from the rest of the world and the very things I wanted badly (belonging and understanding), or change my view and tactics and advocate to the people who mattered. Little did I realize how much of an impact talking about success to others would matter. My problem was I shadowed my successes to the highlighted negative.

The same choice applies to celebrating our victories. Do we choose to not celebrate (TOP SECRET), celebrate with our recovery family (INNER CIRCLE), or do we celebrate openly and publicly? Typically, the public only sees the negative. The media is quick to point out when someone overdoses – “It’s an epidemic!” Or, that this person committed this violent crime – “Mental health disorder!” They don’t show people in recovery and how far they’ve come. In fact, we’re told we should’ve been doing this all along and don’t need a pat on the back for it! We are a living billboard and a direct reflection of what the public sees. Like it or hate it, it doesn’t change the fact. If one person carries this much persuasive power, celebrating our recovery openly and publicly gives us a chance to change the public perception.

How many people support local recovery centers or can name just one center in their community? The community would care if they were made aware of it. The public outside the addiction/mental health circles hasn’t a clue what’s going on. In a way, our stories are like infomercials. The key points are to show the before (problem) and after result, with the success we’ve achieved. It does us little to no good sharing only the problems, while our successes remain shadowed. We would get silence from the community while strengthening the preconceived stereotypes. Thus, what I had experienced for so long. To quote a dear colleague of mine, “Sad stories don’t pay bills.”  We need to share our success to anyone who will listen, the public included.   

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
2248 Hits

What is The P.E.E.R. Center and PEERdance?

Simply put, The PEER Center is a consumer operated drop-in center for people living with mental illness, addiction, and/or trauma. We operate two centers in Columbus, Ohio, and are open 365 days a year. All of our services are free.

The "PEER" in PEER Center is an acronym for Peers Enriching Each others' Recovery. We provide a safe place where individuals receive respect, encouragement, and hope that supports and strengthens their recovery in mental health, addictions, and trauma.

Their purpose is to provide immediate support to people in need. Because we are a drop-in center, all someone has to do is show up and follow the code of conduct, which keeps everyone safe. No referrals are needed and everyone 18 and over is welcome.

Every member of our staff - from front line peer supporters to management - lives with mental illness, addiction, and/or trauma. The people who work here don't just talk about how to be well; we live in recovery. Peer support is a vital tool to have in a person's wellness toolbox and we excel at walking the walk and talking the talk. We know what to do because we've done it.

"The best part about The PEER Center is that everyone is welcome and it's a place to feel supported and safe," says an associate (what we call the folks who use our services) who asked to remain anonymous. 

The PEER Center Needs Your Help!


PEERdance small

And we want you to get involved!

We are currently looking for Dance Captains and corporate sponsors for PEERdance on the morning of September 24th, 2016. (Yes, that is a bye week for you Buckeye fans out there!). PEERdance is our signature community event and fundraiser designed to showcase that recovery happens every day. While society is quick to focus on negative outcomes of mental illness, addiction, and trauma we want to highlight that recovery is possible.

Our Dance Captains are the key to the success of our event. By creating and leading a dance team you will ensure that our services continue to remain available and free for our community. Don't worry, it's easy and while dancing is encouraged - it isn't necessary.

And we are here to help you every step of the way.

Mark your calednars to come on down and listen to music, enter the T-Shirt contest, show your support, and celebrate recovery with us.

To sponsor, sign up, or for more information please contact Gabe Howard at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
3697 Hits

The PEER Center’s 2015 Top 10 List

Top 10


2015 was a great year for all of us at The PEER Center. Here are the top ten things we accomplished:

10. Launched New Website

The PEER Center has refreshed its website and blog for 2015. All the new features can be found by visiting us online at www.ThePEERCenter.org.

9. Social Media Growth of Over 30% Across the Board

2015 saw an average of 30% growth in our social media engagement.  Our Facebook and Twitter gained lots of new followers and interaction has increased tremendously.  We introduced our YouTube Channel (watch here), and our e-mail list had substantial growth, as well. (Sign up here!

8. Community Involvement at All-Time High

Staff and volunteers from The PEER Center were quite active in our community this year, taking part in such events as the National Night Out (NNO), having a booth at the Ohio State Fair, and attending many community health fairs and events.

We presented at various conferences all over Ohio and our Peer Outreach Program (POP!) continued to let peers in our community know we are here for them.

7. Power of Hope Community Presentation

The PEER Center, in conjunction with NAMI Franklin County and COVA, helped put on a free panel discussion for members of the central Ohio community. The Power of Hope panel included people living with mental illness, people with addiction concerns, family members, and a social worker.

The panel was moderated by Dr. Kevin Dixon from ADAMH of Franklin County.

6. Peers as Professionals Education Program in Conjunction with OhioMHAS

The PEER Center, in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), offered Peers As Professionals, a CEU eligible educational program discussing the issues surrounding being a person living with mental illness, addiction, and/or trauma in the workplace.

Missed the training? See the video series on our You Tube Channel.


TPC Family With Santa


5. Launched PEERchampions 

In 2015 we launched the PEERchampions program to allow people to join us in supporting peers in Ohio.

PEERchampions are dedicated advocates, volunteers, and community members who want to help support the recovery journeys of people living with mental illness, addiction, and trauma in central Ohio. Join today by clicking here.

4. PEERdance a Huge Success

On October 17, 2015, The PEER Center held our 2nd Annual fundraiser and 1st annual PEERdance at the Westin Columbus Downtown.  It was a beautiful event held in the Westin's historic Grand Ballroom.  People joined us from all over Ohio to dance, laugh, and celebrate recovery.

We also presented awards to some very special people:  David Royer, the CEO of ADAMH Franklin County, received our inaugural PEERpower award; Priscilla Woodson was named VolunPEER of the Year; and Rick Cunningham won Peer of the Year.  Special thanks to the Westin, DJ Michael Porter, and all of our award winners. 

3. Columbus Dispatch Article

On Sunday, December 20, 2015, The PEER Center was featured in The Columbus Dispatch article, "No Judgement Zone."  Amidst all of the negative information about people living with mental illness, addictions, and/or trauma, we were gratified that The Dispatch chose us when they wanted to feature something positive.  A number of our associates were quoted and highlighted in the article. Check out the Dispatch's webpage to read the entire story and to see additional video featuring our ED, Juliet Dorris-Williams.

2. Peer Services Delivery Grant

In September, The PEER Center was notified by Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) that we had been awarded the Peer Services Delivery Grant.  This means that The PEER Center will now be involved in a partnership with OhioMHAS to enhance and improve peer services throughout Ohio.  We will track the certification of peer supporters, work with groups who offer (or want to start offering) peer services, and enhance the delivery of peer services throughout the state.

Everyone at The PEER Center is excited to take on this new challenge.

1. Record Number of Visits to Both Our Centers

In 2015, The PEER Center had over 55,000 visits across both of our locations. PEER East had over 31,000 visits and PEER West saw over 24,000 visits. As is our custom, every guest was welcome to a cup of coffee and all of our services (from the computer lab to over 50 different groups per week), free of charge.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to such a successful 2015.  Let's continue working together to make 2016 even better!

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
5900 Hits

PEERhugs Project

It’s that time of year again!  All the leaves are off the trees, the weather suddenly got much colder, and every store is filled with decorations and twinkling lights.  The holidays are here - and that means PEERhugs is back.

What is PEERhugs?  PEERhugs is The PEER Center’s annual holiday program to distribute care packages to our associates.  The holidays can be a difficult time of year for those in recovery, and everyone needs a hug sometimes.  So we offer our associates three types of hug boxes:  Hygiene Packs, Warm Hug Kits, and Coping Toolboxes. 

Can you help?  We need individuals and organizations to make up hug boxes for our associates.  This would be a great project for community groups like schools, church groups, fraternal organizations, and others.  Or maybe you and your family would like to give something back this holiday.  Remember – you can never give or receive too many hugs.  Here are the types of boxes we need:

Hygiene Pack consists of toiletries such as washcloths, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, towels, and other hygiene-related items. These are packaged in a gallon-size Ziploc bag and distributed to any associate who requests one.

Warm Hug Kit consists of hats, gloves, mittens, blankets, socks and other items to help someone keep warm during the cold months and brave the ice and snow of an Ohio winter.  These items can be packed together or distributed individually.

A Coping Toolboxis just what it sounds like – a pack full of small items to help a person cope in a difficult situation. We’ve all encountered disappointments and setbacks on our paths to wellness.  You probably use many different physical items to manage your own stress without even thinking about it.  Things like keeping a Koosh ball on your desk to toss around when you are frustrated at the office or lighting a scented candle to relax at the end of the day can make a huge difference.  Do you ever pick up a crossword puzzle to have a temporary distraction from a difficult problem?  Or maybe just to have a bit of fun and reward yourself after a long week?  All of these coping strategies can help you get over a rough patch. 

And what is the best help during a bad period?  A HUG!  A hug from someone who cares and understands what you are going through.  We want to offer our associates a PEERhug by packaging a shoebox-sized (or smaller) container of items they can turn to when they are struggling.  The person receiving the PEERhug can reach into the box in times of stress to take their mind off their troubles and have a momentary distraction from the difficult situation they find themselves in. And let’s get creative! We are looking for small things (remember, shoebox-size or smaller) to give someone a pick-me-up.  Anything that engages the mind or senses will help.  Ideas include lotion, scented candles, tea bags, hard candy, cuddly blankets, poetry, written affirmation statements, pretty postcards, puzzle books, or a deck of cards.  We also like to include textured items, like a fuzzy stuffed animal or a Koosh ball – the kind of thing you can pull out and fiddle with.

The PEER Center staff will also be assembling PEERhugs boxes, and we need donated items to put in them.  Any donations of the itemsPEERhugs
listed above would be a great help.  We also need gallon-size Ziploc bags and shoe boxes to package the hugs.

Please remember that we can only distribute unopened toiletry items.  These items are often given away free in hotels or as product samples.  If you are planning on purchasing items to donate, make the most out of your donation dollars by buying in bulk and looking for sales.  And remember to always make sure you understand the pricing structure of the store – often travel-sized items are actually higher priced than other options. 

So as we start into this weekend of thanksgiving, please help us give all of our associates a PEERhug.  And a big HUG back to you and yours from all of the staff and associates of The PEER Center!

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
4087 Hits