What is “Ask An Advocate?” 

Ask an Advocate is an opportunity for the Youth MOVE Peer Center network to ask questions about peer support, youth leadership, and related mission-topics to our professional staff. Each quarter, we will answer questions in our newsletter and share them in this space as well. If you have a question you’d like answered, please reach out at [email protected]

Should youth peer providers be supervised by a person with lived experience?

Effective supervision is critical in supporting youth peers, especially those working within clinical environments. Supervision provides the necessary space for youth peers to reflect upon and improve their professional practices. At Youth MOVE National, we are frequently asked whether youth peers should be supervised by a fellow peer with experience as a peer support provider or another staff, like a social worker or clinician. Our recommendation aligns with suggested best practices- youth peers are most effectively supervised by another person with knowledge of and experience in the peer support role. Peer-led supervision helps to prevent “peer drift” and supports youth peers in feeling both understood and grounded in their role. It also helps to prevent the sense of isolation that sometimes occurs when a youth peer is one of few staff sharing lived experience in the service of their job. Because peer supervisors have a better understanding of the peer support role, there is a lower likelihood that philosophical conflicts will arise.

In addition to frequent supervision, youth peers should be offered opportunities for coaching, mentorship, and ongoing professional development. Youth peers also need to be provided space to connect with other youth peer supporters. It can be helpful to create a structured, facilitated space in which youth peers are brought together for peer-to-peer learning and a safe environment to reflect on their experiences as youth peers. This space should also be peer-led.

Another benefit of peer-led supervision is the creation of a career pathway for individuals with lived experience. Youth peer providers bring a unique and valuable perspective to the mental health workforce and ultimately, this perspective helps to build a more responsive and supportive service system. With appropriate coaching and supervision, youth peers can make a significant impact on the lives of youth with mental health challenges by offering hope, reducing stigma, building relationships, and empowering young people to find meaning in their experiences with mental illness.

How can I get involved with Youth MOVE National?

We get this question a lot, from a lot of different people! Youth and young adults, as well as supportive adults and collaborative partners, have a few different ways they can connect with us and our work. Read on, reader, to find out!

Youth and young adults ages 13 – 30 play essential roles in directing our work. This includes keeping an eye out and applying to join our Board of Directors when openings come up, or applying to join the Youth Best Practice Committee (YBPC applications open every October!) and any of its subcommittees, or joining our mailing list and looking out for opportunities to work with us and our partners on different projects! For example, right now, we are looking for guest bloggers. We also frequently partner with research initiatives to support recruitment of young people to inform the study- from developing surveys, to participating in the study, to helping analyze and interpret data, there are multiple ways you can engage in the research opportunities that arise. 

Supportive adults – across behavioral health, mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, education, public health, and beyond – are also welcome to apply to work with our Board and YBPC! Our goal is to keep both groups majority youth and young adults, so that we know we are youth guided in our work. So if you’re interested in offering your talent, expertise, and connection to young people motivating others through voices of experience – apply! 

Other ways to get involved include joining us for the Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day activities, learning more about and using the What Helps What Harms framework in your own community, or even starting up your own Youth MOVE Chapter! Our website is updated with opportunities as they come up, so be sure to bookmark and check back regularly!

Working from home has caused challenges in balancing my work and home life, causing excess stress in an already stressful time. What recommendations do you have to better focus while at work, and more fully “clock out” when I’m done to ensure I maintain my mental health wellness?

Many of us can relate to the challenges presented by working from home. Finding ways to get focused at work and to disconnect from work once the day is over can go a long way towards improving our mental wellbeing, work-from-home experience, and productivity. 

Here are some tips and tricks from our team that may help you adjust to the work-from-home environment!

  • Have a designated workspace. It can help maintain focus to have a space that is a dedicated work environment. We recommend somewhere quiet and private (if possible), where you can keep and store the things you need for work (pens, notebooks, etc)
  • Elevate your workspace. We recommend things like adding a plant or flowers, lighting a candle, and natural sunlight is always a bonus! One of our team members even has a room divider in their workspace so that once they clock out, the workspace is out of sight, out of mind! 
  • Get in the Zone! Make sure you have everything you need before you get started to avoid walking away from your workstation. Turning off notifications and alerts can also help avoid distractions. We recommend putting on music that makes you feel good and energized (check out our YMN Playlist here!) 
  • Set and keep boundaries. This can mean many things; from not answering personal calls or text messages while on the clock, to resisting the urge to do things like check or respond to emails outside of work hours. 
  • Take a break! Stepping away for a short break allows us to recharge and come back to our work with renewed energy. We recommend taking a short walk, making a snack, or watching a funny video. 

        These are just a few suggestions, we would love to hear from you about what helps you to do your best in a work-from-home environment. Leave us a comment and let us know what works for you! Find even more ideas in our blog about working from home. 

        Bonus Tip!: Before you begin work, start a slow-cooked meal in the crockpot or on the stove, that way dinner will be ready after work.