‘You are not alone,’ Peer Support Specialist uses her own struggle to help others

‘You are not alone,’ Peer Support Specialist uses her own struggle to help others

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Peer support specialist Melody Worsham has an important message she wants to share with coastal Mississippians.

“Number one, you are not alone.”

Worsham has had her own struggles with mental illness and understands how hard it can be to reach out for help. However, she says she wished she would have sought help sooner.

“If I had had other people like me, like peer support available and that accepting group of people that I can talk to, I think it would have made a huge difference. Cause I see how fast people recover using the peer support we offer and how fast it’s happened since I’ve connected to peer support for myself,” Worsham said.

Worsham now works as a peer support specialist at the Mental Health Association of South Mississippi where she uses her own experiences to help others navigate the world of recovery.

Stigma, she says, keeps many people from seeking help.

“Mental health is just like physical health, we all need it. So, being able to reach out and just ask for help, and if you feel like you’re being judged or you’re uncomfortable with the people you talk to well then go to somebody else. Or even come to MHA where I work. That’s a judgment-free zone we’re going to listen and we’re going to try to find you the resources you need.”

Worsham said she has seen first-hand how this pandemic has affected people mentally and, in some cases, exacerbated symptoms that were already present in people. The state has taken notice, too.

In an effort to promote mental health awareness during the coronavirus pandemic, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health launched a website called behindthemaskms.com. The campaign is to “encourage individuals facing mental health problems not to hide ‘behind the mask,’ but to seek help for their mental health problems, to understand that the pandemic has affected all kinds of people around the state, and to realize that these issues are common.”

That’s the same message Worsham is promoting and says this online resource is invaluable to those interested in seeking help.

“Whatever is going on, there is hope and you can recover. There is no such thing as someone who can’t recover. Things can be better, even if you can’t see it. Take a leap of faith and reach out. Things can be better for you,’ Worsham said.

In addition to behindthemaskms.com, Melody suggests going to the Mental Health Association of South Mississippi’s website at https://msmentalhealth.org/. There you can find information about the programs and resources offered.

For a list of more mental health resources in South Mississippi, check out our resource page at https://www.wlox.com/2021/04/23/south-mississippi-mental-health-resources/

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