KVC Nebraska provides Youth Peer Support Services to help children, teens, and young adults who are experiencing mental health challenges such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety. This program strives to help clients maintain their wellness and recovery while creating a positive, lasting relationship with someone who knows how to help them succeed. KVC matches each youth client with a KVC-employed Peer Support Specialist who has had similar life experiences and the Specialist provides guidance, support, and resources for the client’s continual growth and recovery. Our Specialist assists the client in understanding the different components of recovery and resiliency, and how to apply these skills to achieve life goals. We also provide these services to clients at no cost to them!
KVC Nebraska’s mission is to enrich and enhance the lives of Nebraska families – and the Youth Peer Support program helps us do just that!
KVC’s Amazing Staff Makes It Possible
KVC employees like Paul Jackson make the work we do effective, lasting and meaningful for the clients we serve. Paul Jackson is a Youth Peer Support Specialist with KVC Nebraska and was an integral part of KVC’s work to successfully launch Youth Peer Support Services. Paul is described by youth clients and KVC staff as a compassionate, driven and genuine person who truly cares about every single client and understands how to relate to them and help them thrive.
We recently sat down with Paul to learn more about his role as a Peer Support Specialist and how this work impacts his life. Read below to find out what Paul said and his advice to anyone experiencing challenges that can seem difficult to overcome.
Q: What made you choose to work in this field?
Paul: I have always wanted to work in this field and hoped that I would be able to use my life experiences to help others. I have struggled with mental health challenges since elementary school. Without knowing where to go for help or what to do, I self-medicated with drugs and alcohol and quickly slipped into active addiction. My experiences as a consumer of mental health and addiction services have allowed me to explore recovery and learn many wellness tools over the years. For me to maintain my personal recovery, it is important for me to share my experiences, good and bad, and try to bring hope to anyone I can!
Q: What do you find most rewarding about your job?
Paul: EVERYTHING! I love the people I work with and the work I am doing! I enjoy learning and growing with my peers and fellow employees. I find it very rewarding to learn new skills to improve myself and help others on their journey to improve wellbeing and live the best life possible. Knowing that I’m making a positive, lasting impact on someone’s life brings so much meaning and joy to my life.
Q: Describe one of the proudest moments in your role.
Paul: My proudest working moment was when I met with my first client for the Youth Peer Support program. It was so incredibly stimulating and rewarding! We played UNO and Bananagrams and talked about our families, school, friends, and some of the challenges of living in our world today. Toward the end of our visit, my client asked when we could meet again! I feel like I am doing what I was meant to do with my life and find this work very fulfilling.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone who has been or is currently in a difficult place in their life or experiencing mental health challenges?
Paul: Be open, honest and willing to ask for guidance when you need it. There is no shame in needing help from others or wanting to talk to someone – I am so thankful for the people who helped me on my journey to recovery. Having a support system makes all of the difference and there are many resources available to help you find the support you need.
I always try to focus on moving toward the future instead of thinking of life as moving away from the past. I encourage the clients and families I work with to do the same. – Paul
Q: What is it like working at KVC?
Paul: KVC is awesome! I am encouraged to grow and learn, and I receive support all along the way. Having this reinforcement really helps me to keep me moving forward. Since my very first day at KVC Nebraska, I have been amazed at how nice, genuine, and helpful everyone has been at making me feel welcome. I hope to pass this same feeling on to the families I work with!
I love being able to be myself and feel like I can make a real difference in our clients’ lives! KVC gives employees the opportunity to do work that helps others and also helps employees grow and become the best versions of themselves.