By Rob Waters
My amazing mom, Elinor Waters, turned 95 a few months ago and no one has inspired me more. She’s the original optimist, and while her willingness to type my high school papers may have hampered my typing ability (I’m fast but wildly inaccurate), her encouragement in all things has been a bedrock for me.
Her own accomplishments are amazing – and helped me see the importance of psychological and emotional support in the mental health of people and communities – not to mention the old-fashioned ethic of hard work.
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While raising three kids, she went back to school to get a doctorate in counseling in her 40s and went on to direct a program at Oakland University that provided peer counseling and training to older women and to “ordinary housewives” who wanted to reenter the work force and find value outside the home.
Digging around a little, I found this description of the Center: “a pioneer program and a model for preventative mental health care delivery for mature, middle-class women – a population that had not until then been considered as needing such services. The program received wide acclaim across the United States and beyond for its pioneering services to women, long before the women’s liberation movement.”
The center was even funded by the National Institute for Mental Health – a fact she only told me recently – to run an adult peer counseling and leadership training program. Sadly, the program ended in the 1990s. If it were still going, we’d no doubt be writing about it in our “Peer Hub” section.
One other thing about my mom: She has been affected by macular degeneration for more than 20 years and has lived with severely impaired vision for much of that time. Her response: to adapt – and to lead support groups (as a volunteer) for other people struggling to cope with the loss of their vision.
My mom’s understanding of the importance of mutual support, and the value of peers, stuck with me. Today, peer support specialists are seen as a critical way to provide mental health support and services – and are an area MindSite News is committed to covering.
Please click on the button below to donate in honor of moms, of the people who work as peer supporters – and, of course, to support a publication dedicated to telling these stories and covering the mental health and peer support arena.
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And thanks, Mom, for being a supporter of MindSite News and for always supporting me.
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