My Role: Receiving and Giving Peer Support by Howard Diamond

Submitted on July 28, 2022

man in gray sweater and black pants sitting on purple couch
Photo by cottonbro on

My story here begins in 1983, about two years after my first diagnosis of many, I met someone involved in peer support, named DH.  During this time DH is a professor at a local university, plus his roles at a county multi-faceted Mental Health Agency. Although, he was not a Peer, DH was an advocate for the Peer Movement, so I took his card and thanked him for his encouragement and time.

From 1982 through the present year which included my working at the bank 1986 to 1990, my anxiety spiraled up and down, like a yo-yo. I am diagnosed with social and general anxiety, plus OCD. In addition, I had feelings of extreme hopelessness, helplessness, and a major degree of worthlessness. Most importantly, I never thought of suicide.

In 1986, I began working for a bank as a Loan Processor Trainee. Within a year or so, I was promoted and the “Trainee” was removed from my title. Early in 1987, I was introduced by my supervisor to JG, who had an important position with the bank. Privately, we talked about various mental issues and he said he knew a mental health agency that was in need of volunteers and part time employees. Over the next few years we saw each other periodically.

Later in 1987, JG told me about a friend of his that worked for the agency we discussed several months previously. In addition to his job at the bank, he informed me that he was a board member of that agency. Then, he gave me his friend’s phone number and recommended that I call him. So I called him and his secretary made an interview time that the two of us could meet.

Ironically, he was DH, the man I met back in 1983 and we had seen each other at a conference a year prior. A few weeks later, DH hired me to a volunteer position two nights a week in the agency’s mental health evening clubhouse program. Also, he informed me that there are groups that are being led by people who have “lived experience” with mental health issues, like myself.

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Howard Diamond is a Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island.

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