Two generous grants will strengthen the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance’s (DBSA) peer support apprenticeship program, which trains and empowers people living with mental health conditions to become peer support specialists working to address the mental health concerns in their communities. Additionally, the grants specifically support two peer support pilot programs: one designed for members of the Black community, and another for U.S. Veterans.  

The grants from Telligen Community Initiative (TCI), and The Boeing Company, will allow DBSA to solidify the program as a recognized workforce development solution and continue to provide peer support services to individuals living with a mood disorder. 

“The need for mental health support and treatment has been magnified by the pandemic, especially those qualified to provide clinical services,” said TCI Executive Director Matt McGarvey. “TCI is proud to support the peer support apprenticeship program which will ultimately increase access to these critical programs by those seeking support.” 

The peer support apprenticeship program, launched in 2021, is part of DBSA’s larger efforts to expand the peer specialist workforce and provide direct mental health support to communities in need.  

“We are committed to programs that give veterans a new mission and a path for building better lives for themselves and their families,” said Bernice Billups, Boeing Global Engagement director. “DBSA’s Veteran Strength program does that by providing peer-focused support for veterans in Chicago, and Boeing is honored to support this work.”  

The first cohort of four peer support apprentices will being serving at a local behavioral health center in May 2022 and is set to graduate next year. From there, they will complete the required certifications and use their experiences of living with a mental health condition to help others on the road to wellness. 

“As a premier peer support specialist training provider for over 15 years, an apprenticeship program is a natural extension of the work DBSA currently implements with expertise,” DBSA CEO Michael Pollock said. “Providing a living wage while peers accrue the practical hours necessary for certification allows more peers to join the workforce and expand the availability of mental health services. DBSA is immensely grateful to TCI and Boeing for their investment in this vital, innovative program.”