“To hear a difference is being made for clients is exceptionally satisfying, providing me with a sense of hope that change is possible.”
- DJ Jameslouis
Over 80,000 calls received on the peer line in the last year
Approximately 70 peer service positions at NYC Well
33 new peer service positions added in the last year
NYC Well, which is administered by Vibrant, is New York City's free, confidential support, crisis intervention, and information and referral service for anyone seeking help for mental health and/or substance misuse concerns, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In addition to connecting to crisis counselors, NYC Well also connects to trained peer support specialists like DJ Jameslouis who through their own mental health experiences help New Yorkers navigate through challenging times and find the emotional health services that best meet their needs. As part of Vibrant’s work to rapidly expand the emotional support and crisis line to reach and serve more people, DJ joined NYC Well’s staff a year ago as a Peer Specialist before being promoted to Peer Supervisor.
I served in the military for more than 8 years before I changed career paths to become a counselor. Working for NYC Well gives me the opportunity to offer people in crisis a sense of enlightenment, and a chance to feel heard, validated, and supported.
I had previously worked on other crisis lines, but what attracted me to NYC Well was the peer counseling support we offer our clients. At NYC Well, all of the Peer Specialists have experienced some sort of mental health crisis in their own lives. That includes me, too. I find that a lot of our clients prefer speaking with a peer, rather than a counselor, because we can share and relate our emotional health struggles. That’s so validating. We can see ourselves in each other’s stories, and vice versa.
I also joined NYC Well because of the sheer range of ways we can reach people in need – phone, text or chat. The phone can be really intimidating for people of all ages, but especially for kids and teens. Text and chat means there’s less pressure to get one’s thoughts together. The anonymity can also feel freeing. It’s really important, too, for children in crisis or victims of domestic violence to have a text or chat option; they don’t want their spouse or parent to know they’re reaching out to someone. The other benefit of text and chat is that you get to keep the conversation! You can refer back to and draw on the empowerment messages we offer when you need that boost.
In the year I’ve been at NYC Well, we have expanded dramatically. There are so many people out there who need the kind of peer support we offer. I know that NYC Well would have made a difference in my own emotional health journey had it been around when I was struggling. I would have felt seen and heard at a time when I needed that validation most. Now I can give that sense of hope to others.