Catherine Ross: A Voice for Recovery
As a fairly new concept and program, peer support can be challenging to define. Fortunately, we have several peer professionals here at MBH who can articulately describe this important position and how it supports individuals living with mental illness. Catherine Ross, CIPSS (Certified Intentional Peer Support Specialist) is one example. She works at Springbrook Drive in Biddeford and has become a valued and respected member of our Peer Services program.
With 30 years of sobriety to her credit, Catherine joined us with a wealth of personal experience. She knows what it’s like to live with alcoholism, depression and the challenges of family estrangement. “I became involved with the 12-step recovery community a long time ago when I lived in Virginia,” Catherine explained. “After moving to Maine I found this thing called ‘peer support’ and there were opportunities to do it professionally, specifically around mental health. That was very appealing to me.”
She stresses that the purpose of Intentional Peer Support is to build mutually supportive relationships. It’s different than a client/clinician relationship. “We can learn from each other and learn together,” Catherine said. “What I love about this work is seeing the amazing transformations happen – some of those lightbulb moments that prompt big changes in our lives, including myself."
In addition to her work at MBH, Catherine is the current chair of the Intentional Peer Support Advisory Committee to the State of Maine Certified Intentional Peer Support Program (CIPS) which advises DHHS on training and certification for peer support specialists. She is proud of the pioneering work done by the CIPS Program here in Maine ahead of many programs that are evolving throughout the U.S.
“Catherine’s contributions to this committee truly illustrate her capacity to shape peer services at MBH,” said Randy Morrison, Director of Peer Services. “She is one of our most experienced Peer Support Specialists and brings a wealth of knowledge about the Intentional Peer Support model to MBH. We are grateful to have her as part of our growing peer services team.”
Catherine also serves on the MBH Behavioral Advisory Committee that provides feedback on our programs from the perspective of someone with a lived experience (with mental illness) and their family members. She provides a tremendous contribution to our mission of providing compassionate care to promote recovery and the overall well-being of those we are privileged to serve.