Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
A: Hi my name is Drew. I am a peer specialist here at OnTrackNY at the Jewish Board. My role is to share my story with others and offer support in whatever way they need it. I can work out in the field, and I also have groups here at the Jewish Board. I share what my own journey was like and offer insight. I am a bit of a unique case because I was actually a participant at OnTrackNY, and then became a peer specialist after I graduated the program.
Q: So, you used to be a participant in OnTrackNY, and now you are a peer specialist. What has that transition been like?
A: It’s been great. The fact that I get to sit in on meetings, and hear what psychiatrists and other team members have to say is so amazing to me. It’s great that they listen to me just based off my lived experience. It’s different than what I expected, I didn’t think I’d have such a voice on the team.
Q: Why do you feel the role of the peer specialist is so important?
A: Because someone who has actually gone through what [the participants] are going through is something they’ve never had before. Having someone there with the perspective of what you’re going through is very different, and important.
Q: What inspired you to become a peer specialist?
A: I didn’t know where my life was going. All I knew was I had psychosis. I was working as a security guard and I hated it. So, I spoke with Noah, who had been my peer specialist when I was at OnTrackNY, and he suggested I look into being a peer specialist myself. You can become a peer specialist in many different ways, and the role can vary depending on where you are. I personally did a program called Howie the Harp. It was a 6 month program, that met every day. I learned so many things, like motivational interviewing strategies….just so many things.
Q: You recently filmed with us for an upcoming OnTrackNY video, what was that experience like?
A: I liked it. You guys were very comforting. It was an open space where I could share my story. I did the film because I want to inspire people by sharing my story.
Stay tuned for our upcoming OnTrackNY recovery videos, one of which will feature Drew as he tells his full story about his experience with psychosis, his time as a participant at OnTrackNY, and where he is now!