NAMI Western Nevada has a team of dedicated peers who are committed to advancing recovery and supporting behavioral health equity for Nevadans living with mental illness through inclusive, statewide programs such as the Nevada Caring Contacts Program (Caring Contacts). The program was started based on the success of the Nevada Warmline (Warmline), a one-on-one peer support line for Nevadans living with mental illness and has expanded to add the Nevada Teen Peer Support Text Line (Teen Text Line). The Caring Contacts program is a specialized branch of the Warmline and Teen Text Line that is peer-built, peer-led, and peer-delivered. This program is an innovation in hospital and suicide prevention and postvention that provides peer support for follow-up care, bridging the gap between identification of a crisis or suicidality and stabilization. Caring Contacts provides person-centered peer support that is available to all Nevadans to reduce the use of higher levels of care, suicide attempts, and loss of lives due to death by suicide. Caring Contacts was developed by a group of peers who are suicide attempt survivors and who are determined to make a change in the prevention and postvention care in Nevada based on what they would have wanted in their darkest moments of suicidality and crisis. Caring Contacts is staffed by individuals who have experienced suicidality, are suicide attempt survivors, and/or have experienced hospitalization who are now living in recovery. Using shared lived experiences, Peer Wellness Operators offer a unique connection, allow the participant to know they are not alone, and inspire hope that recovery is possible. Caring Contacts bridges the gaps between identification, first appointment, engagement in treatment, and stabilization. The service provides ongoing support that is person centered, scalable to the participant’s needs and desires, and collaborative with the treatment provider and team. The program strives to make ongoing improvements through data collection, quality assurance, operator experience, and program evaluation. The design of Caring Contacts provides workforce development opportunities for the Peer Wellness Operators to grow in their personal and professional recovery journey through mentoring, education, and experience. The operators are trained in evidence-based and/or best practices of peer support and suicide prevention. The goal of workforce development through Caring Contacts is for the operators to become competent and confident to work towards their individual professional dreams. Caring Contacts assists with keeping individuals experiencing these risks in their communities at lower levels of care which reduces trauma for the individual and creates cost savings for the systems of care in Nevada through early intervention. The ultimate goals of the program are to reduce unnecessary hospitalization, promote recovery for all Nevadans, and save lives.

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