W·I·S·E is Now Statewide!
We are pleased to announce OSHPD has awarded NorCal MHA a brand new contract to expand WISE throughout California! As always, every service WISE offers is completely free for both employers and peers in California's public mental health system. For more information on what the WISE program does and the services available to your agency, visit
or contact Dawniell Zavala, WISE Program Director, at
Be sure to stay tuned for our brand new WISE website, scheduled to launch in mid-October. The site will incorporate all of our tools, resources, and materials for WISE participants, including recorded trainings and webinars, special content just for employers and peers, news and research related to workplace culture and peer employment, job announcements for peers in the public mental health system, trainings and professional development opportunities for both employers and peers, and upcoming WISE events and activities. Expect an announcement once the site is live!
W·I·S·E OWLs: Extending Our Wingspan Across California
As WISE embarks on its statewide expansion, we have incorporated the assistance of four strategically located partners - our WISE OWLs (Official Wise Liaisons) - to ensure every county in California has access to the high-quality resources, trainings, coaching, and on-call technical assistance for which WISE is known. Please join us in welcoming our new OWLs to the WISE community:
Peer Recovery Art Project (PRAP)
PRAP is an independent nonprofit organization located in Stanislaus County working to end stigma and revitalize downtown areas through the use of art to create healthier and more connected communities. PRAP's Executive Director is John Black, a recognized leader in California's consumer movement, who actively advocates for client empowerment in Modesto and beyond. John also supervises peer staff working in Stanislaus County and is highly familiar with peer employment matters. PRAP will assist with the outreach and engagement of employers and peers in the Central and Bay Area Regions, and will deliver trainings and disseminate program tools, resources, and best practices, ensuring a strong presence throughout counties in the southern Central Valley and southern Bay Area.
Hope 365, located in Santa Barbara, will provide outreach to Kern, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, and Santa Barbara Counties in the Southern California. Tina Wooton, CEO of Hope 365, is a seasoned Recovery Educator with vast capabilities in delivering trainings, working with peer staff, and integrating peers into the PMHS. Tina has over 25 years' experience building the capacity of peers and advocating for consumer interests in the PMHS. Tina presently serves as the Consumer Empowerment Manager in Santa Barbara County, where she advises the Department of Mental Health's Executive Team and providers on recovery principles. Tina has supervised Peer Recovery Specialists in each region of the County, participates in a variety of quality assurance activities, and facilitates monthly meetings of the Consumer and Family Member Advisory Committee. In her role, Tina trains staff on integrating peers into the workplace and helps to develop and oversee the County's Peer Support Training and Internship program. Tina also serves as a consumer representative on the MHSA Oversight and Accountability Commission, a governor-appointed position.
Dr. Rocco Cheng
Dr. Rocco Cheng, Ph.D., a psychologist and esteemed leader in Southern California's mental health community, will provide outreach, promotion, trainings, and coaching services to peers and employers in the Los Angeles region and counties in Southern California's Inland Empire, focusing on engaging peers and employers working in and with underserved ethnic and cultural communities. Through his work with Pacific Clinics, Dr. Cheng has collaborated with consumers, family members, volunteers, providing innovative leadership in throughout a variety of communities in Southern California, offering treatment, prevention and early intervention, program development and evaluation, research, training, and public education and advocacy, frequently in partnership with other social services organizations. Dr. Cheng's career as a clinician serving individuals in the public mental health system will be instrumental in helping WISE connect with organizational leaders, clinicians, and other professional staff.
Project Return, a peer-run mental health organization in Los Angeles, promotes wellness, personal growth and self-determination for people who have experienced mental illness by providing social opportunities, education, and community involvement. Project Return will help WISE in reaching the expansive Los Angeles, San Diego, and Southern California inland counties. Led by the efforts of Guyton Colantuono, Project Return's Executive Director, and Richard Krzyzanowski, the agency's expert trainer, Project Return will assist with outreach strategies, training, technical assistance, and dissemination of best practices and core competencies developed through the WISE program.
W·I·S·E @ Work: Spotlight on Success
For several years, Paula Bataz has worked as a Peer Empowerment Provider in California's public mental health system. We met Paula when WISE visited her employer to identify the agency's needs related to peer employment. Since then, Paula has been actively engaged with WISE program activities, including our coaching and mentoring services for peer support workers.
Like many peer staff, Paula was experiencing both personal and financial stress due to low pay, lack of benefits, and the absence of advancement opportunities at her job. Although Paula has a stellar resume and ideal qualifications, she was overlooked when applying for several higher and lateral positions with her existing employer. Through her ongoing participation in our Peer Professional Development Group calls and Peer Professional Facebook Group page, as well as availing herself of our WISE peer
coaching/mentoring sessions, Paula discovered one of the many peer job opportunities we posted and took a chance at applying. Paula successfully navigated the application and interview process and secured full-time employment with higher pay and great benefits working in NorCal MHA's Sacramento County Peer Partner Program. Paula will be starting her new position in early October. Please join us in congratulating Paula as she begins this exciting new endeavor!
PEERS: Don't forget to participate in our peer activities and join our peer Facebook group to stay informed of new employment opportunities as soon as they arise! For more information about our Peer Professional Development Group calls and Peer Professional Facebook Group page.
EMPLOYERS: If your agency has a peer-related job opening you'd like WISE to share with our network, let us know! WISE will post the opening on our Peer Professional Facebook Group page, announce the opportunity on our Peer Professional Development Group calls, and list the position on WISE's new website.
or more information, contact
Stephanie Ramos, WISE Peer Services Liaison, at
Get W·I·S·E: Ongoing Activities and Upcoming Events
Amador County Peer Orientation
Amador County Behavioral Health Services recently provided additional funding to its contracted agencies to promote peer-provided services. To assist with this, WISE is delivering a peer orientation in Amador County for individuals with lived experience who are currently working or volunteering in peer positions, or who want to work or volunteer in the public mental health system in the future. The orientation is a two-day event on October 21 and 22, from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm each day. Topics covered during the training include:
- Recovery 101
- Peer Support 101
- Ethics, Boundaries, and Confidentiality
- Navigating the Amador County Behavioral Health System
- Local Services and Resources in Amador County
- HIPAA Basics
- Sexual Harassment/Workplace Bullying Prevention
If you live in Amador County and identify as a current/former consumer of mental health services or a parent, family member, or caretaker of a consumer, please consider attending this free training event. Space is limited and Amador County residents will have first priority, although the training is open to peers from neighboring communities. For more information about the orientation, please contact Dawniell Zavala, WISE Program Director, at email@example.com.
Employer Learning Exchange
The WISE Employer Learning Exchange (ELE) calls and webinars take place on the last Monday of each month from 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm. The ELE is for organizational leaders, policy planners, managers, directors, and human resources staff that oversee peer programs and/or work directly with peer staff. It is not for line staff or peers who are not working in a supervisory or leadership position.
The ELE offers a forum for key decision makers to discuss their experiences, ideas, tips, challenges, and best practices related to peer employment and get their questions answered in a friendly, supportive, and nonjudgmental environment. For more information about the ELE, contact Dawniell Zavala, WISE Program Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- October 26, 2015, 2:00PM - 3:00PM | Webinar: Working in Recovery 1.3 - Needs-Based Communication as a Peer Supervision Tool
- November 30, 2015, 2:00PM - 3:00PM | Webinar: Working in Recovery 1.4 - Initiating Difficult Conversations with Peer Staff
- December 28, 2015, 2:00PM - 3:00PM | Webinar: Working in Recovery 1.5 - Using a Collaborative Work Plan to Address Peer Performance Issues
Peer Staff Professional Development Group
The Peer Staff Professional Development Group monthly conference calls and webinars are for individuals with lived experience working in peer support roles in the public mental health system. This includes line staff who identify as consumers or family members. This call is not for managers, supervisors, or organizational leadership.
We meet monthly to learn about important self-help topics, peer workforce developments, and to connect with one another through professional networking. The calls can be a great venue for program staff to receive input and views of those on the ground regarding important issues related to successful and sustainable peer employment. For more information about the Peer Staff Professional Development Group, contact Stephanie Ramos, WISE Peer Services Liaison, at email@example.com.
- October 5, 2015, 3:00PM - 4:00PM
- October 19, 2015, 3:00PM - 4:00PM
- November 2, 2015, 3:00PM - 4:00PM
- November 16, 2015, 3:00PM - 4:00PM
- December 5, 2015, 3:00PM - 4:00PM
Mentoring and Career Coaching for Peer Staff
Are you working or volunteering in a peer support role?
Do you ever feel like you don't know where you're going in your career?
Does work seem to be taking over your life?
Is it sometimes difficult dealing with people at work?
WISE offers peer staff one-on-one support, mentoring, and career coaching. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
- Interpersonal relationships with supervisors and coworkers
- Managing work/life balance
- Overcoming barriers to workplace success
- Moving forward and upward in your career
- and many more!
We work most of our lives and often spend more time with our coworkers than our friends and loved ones. Creating a plan or roadmap to workplace success is essential to determining a destination and finding out more about ourselves and who we want to be.
To schedule your career coaching/mentoring appointment today, email Stephanie Ramos, WISE Peer Services Liaison, at
Peer Financial Assistance Opportunities
WISE provides financial support to individuals with lived experience who are currently working in, or want to work in, California's public mental health system. This financial support allows peers to attend trainings, workshops, and conferences that enhance their work skills and/or contribute to peers' professional development and career advancement in the public mental health system. Financial support can assist with conference/training registration fees, childcare expenses, travel and transportation, meals, and other costs related to attendance at these events.
For more information about financial assistance and whether you may qualify, email Stephanie Ramos, WISE Peer Services Liaison, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Retention Assistance for Hard-to-Fill Positions
Are you a public mental health agency, county, or CBO struggling with retention of key positions, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical supervisors, physician assistants, psychiatric nurses, clinical staff, case managers, social workers, counselors, and recovery coaches? Are low morale, stress, burnout, compassion fatigue, working with difficult populations, lack of training, and mental health-related stigma negatively impacting your workforce? Are you experiencing difficulty incorporating recovery-oriented and/or culturally competent services into your work setting? WISE can help!
Through our tailored workforce retention activities, WISE addresses the most common causes of turnover and employee dissatisfaction with specialized training and technical assistance designed to:
- Develop workplace psychological safety, improve organizational culture, and strengthen interpersonal relationships with coworkers and clients
- Enhance self-care strategies to reduce burnout and work-related stress
- Expand understanding and implementation of wellness, recovery, resiliency principles in services delivery
- Strengthen cultural competency to better serve targeted populations
For more information about WISE's retention strategies and supports, contact Poshi Mikalson, WISE Workforce Retention Liaison, at
A Word to the W·I·S·E: 13 Psychosocial Risk Factors in the Workplace
Researchers at Canada's Simon Fraser University have identified 13 psychological risk factors in the workplace. These risk factors to look out for include:
- Lack of psychological support - can lead to greater absenteeism, conflict, ill health, lower productivity and higher risk of workplace accidents.
- Negative organizational culture - creates stress and can lead to burnout.
- Lack of effective leadership - creates feelings of powerlessness, stress and nervousness.
- Lack of civility and respect - can lead to endemic bullying, conflicts among staff, and an increase in grievances and legal action.
- Poor job fit - leads to defensiveness, lack of engagement, low productivity and higher turnover.
- Lack of development opportunities - creates disengagement, boredom and low productivity.
- Lack of recognition - can lead to emotional distress and burnout.
- Lack of inclusion - creates indifference, cynicism and higher turnover.
- Excessive workload - leads to stress, emotional fatigue and feelings of inadequacy.
- Lack of engagement - creates withdrawal, counter-productive behavior and low productivity.
- Lack of work/life balance - leads to excessive tiredness, ill temper, ill health and stress.
- Lack of psychological protection - creates feelings of demoralization and disengagement.
- Lack of physical safety in the workplace - makes employees feel disengaged and insecure.
For more information about these factors and how you can improve psychological health and safety in your workplace, check out
this link to the full report
To learn how WISE can help address these factors in your workplace, contact Poshi Mikalson, WISE Workforce Retention Liaison, at
is a program of NorCal MHA funded by California's Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) and administered by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD)
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