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Department of Psychiatry celebrates Allies anniversary

Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry recently celebrated the two-year anniversary of its peer support group, Allies. Allies is available to community members who have used Brigham and Women’s psychiatry services at either Brigham and Women’s Hospital or BWFH. Allies meets weekly via Zoom to support group members in their recovery and to assist in enhancing their lives. Chief of Psychiatry John Fromson, MD, Director of Inpatient Psychology and Training Christopher AhnAllen, PhD, and long-time BWFH peer volunteer Judith Ashton launched the group in 2019.

According to Dr. AhnAllen, “Peer support is an evidence-based recovery-oriented practice. Studies indicate that it can reduce hospitalization, improve the quality of lives and increase engagement with services. Peer support also has a positive effect on participants’ self-empowered life management. Our Allies Group aims to provide our patients a continued connection with BWFH and those with common experiences in support of their recovery.”

Peer support is unique. Having achieved recovery and training, a peer worker collaborates with others to help them establish a greater sense of hope and connection and enhance skills to cope with symptoms. A regular Allies participant describes her participation in Allies this way:

Allies is an essential tool in my treatment. I look forward to our Saturday meetings and to sharing my accomplishments and challenges with other group members. The group welcomes everybody, newcomers and long-time participants alike; together we have created a caring learning community.

Allies meets every Saturday from 10 am to noon. There is no cost to participate, and no application is required. Participants may “drop in” as they wish. Please note that Allies is a support group, not a therapy group. Observers, family and friends are not invited to participate. If you know of someone who might benefit from support through Allies, please email Judith Ashton for the Zoom information.

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