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From Tragedy to Triumph: A Story of Hope, Healing, and Peer Support Advocacy

From Tragedy to Triumph:  A Story of Hope, Healing, and Peer Support Advocacy | Project Return Peer Support Network

Disclaimer: This article mentions suicide.

Katina Davis was introduced to PRPSN when a passing woman handed her a card, hoping she would be interested in learning about peer support. She couldn’t have known how much this encounter would change her life.

For an entire year, Katina's oldest son had been missing, residing in Las Vegas without any contact with family. Finally, he returned home, and it was during this time that Katina decided to enroll in the Fall cohort of Project Return’s Peer Professional Training Program, which is now California Association of Peer Supporters Academy (CAPS) Both programs provide individuals with lived experience and family of those experiencing mental illness, an opportunity to become certified as California Peer Support Specialists upon completion. Katina embraced the training whole-heartedly and realized that providing peer support was her purpose. During the training, a Regional Supporter position opened. It would not only be a position to offer direct peer support but also one in which Katina could support staff offering peer support. She applied and interviewed.

During training Katina discovered the phrase, "Ask a Question, Save a Life," which emphasized the importance of directly addressing suicidal intent to reduce anxiety, facilitate communication, and mitigate impulsive actions.With new insights and tools, Katina confronted her son. The result was his placement under a 72-hour hold to ensure his safety. After his discharge, Katina encouraged him to join the Peer Professional Training Program, emphasizing its potential benefits. However, in December of 2021, as Katina was completing the last section of training, she received an incessant series of phone calls. She tried to ignore them so she could focus on the lecturebut the calls persisted. She finally answered in frustration. What she heard unleashed an outcry during her Zoom session. Theinvestigator on the other end asked whether she was the mother of Davon Johnson.The weight of the devastating news struck her as she learned that her son took his own life.

Admist this tragic news, Katina didn’t realize she wasn’t muted. The training facilitator abruptly ended the course for the day considering the tragedy. Twenty minutes later, Katina found herself surrounded by several people from PRPSN, including the training host, who came to her home to provide solace and support. “They were my family when I needed them,” Katina said. “They were little superheroes from God, it was like God dispatched angels.”

 All of these events were unbeknownst to PRPSN’s HR when they reached out to Katina the following day, offering her a job as a Regional Coordinator. It was a remarkable turn of events; this was Katina's first-ever job opportunity."At the age of 50, I had never worked before. But now, I've been here for a year without missing a single day, and I am truly grateful because I know I'm where I belong," Katina expressed.

Now a year later, Katina remains resolute in holding her head high and staying strong. As a Regional Coordinator at PRPSN, she is making a meaningful difference by hosting support groups for individuals coping with mental illness and aspiring to lead fulfilling lives. Saving every person who faces challenges like her late son Davon has become Katina's mission. "As long as I have breath in me, I am going to [help] every Davon out there," affirmed Katina. "I thank God that I have a team beside me."

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Michaella Huck

Mental Health

#mental health

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