Mentoring with Empathy: Beth’s Story

At the Mental Health Center of Denver, we understand that people can and do recover from mental illness. For many people living with mental illness, having a person to talk to with similar lived experience can make a big difference in their recovery and ability to connect with others.

Beth is a peer mentor at 2Succeed in Employment & Education. She has also received services at the Mental Health Center of Denver for anxiety and depression, which helps her every day in providing the best services possible for the people she serves.

Support During COVID-19

For so many people, both employees and those served by the Mental Health Center of Denver, COVID-19 has forced us to create a new way of working and accessing services. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Beth and other peer mentors are continuing to find new ways of providing services and keeping in touch with the people we serve. They use video conferencing for trainings, classes and groups. They text and call people. Sometimes, they use email to stay in touch.

Beth says, “A person I serve is doing pretty well overall but staying homebound has been wearing on her. The biggest thing I do is make sure people know that they’re not alone. We’re so lucky to have this position and to be able to help people. I was raised to be considerate of others, but I had to learn the empathy for people’s unique situations. It’s powerful to be there for someone who may not have another person who will listen to them or understands what’s happening with them. This applies to all the peer mentors and peer specialists. The work we do is so important.”

Vocational Supervisor Marie Wäng says, “The shelter-in-place order has significantly inhibited our ability to communicate with our folks, many of whom do not have access to technology. Beth patiently, diligently and reliably supports the people on her caseload despite the technological challenges. She also still finds the time to participate in countless projects in support of the community at large.”

Beth’s Journey

Beth found the Mental Health Center of Denver a few years after losing her job from the 2008 economic recession. Having previously dealt with depression and anxiety, she knew to look for help from our services. She worked with her care team and developed a deep appreciation for our organization.

As she grew more comfortable at the Mental Health Center of Denver, Beth got to know the staff and other people served. She started working with our organization to help people receiving services get set up on an online portal for the people we serve.

Beth soon applied for and earned a position as a peer mentor. She now helps other people we serve by sharing her recovery story and providing support through her unique lens as a peer. She also became a founding member of 2Succeed’s Photovoice program that helps people engage in their community through photos.

Beth makes the time to do her job to the best of her ability and to take part in other projects throughout the organization. She works on our Census project, participates on grant review team with the Colorado Health Foundation, and helps pack food boxes at the Adult Resource Center.

Beth says, “I learn a lot from my fellow peer mentors, I learn from the people I mentor, and from the folks at 2Succeed. Part of my learning curve is understanding that the things I’ve taken for granted, so many others have struggled for. I have more comprehension for learned dependency now. It’s quite sobering to understand what the people we serve have to face on a daily basis, which we take for granted.”

Through her compassion, humor and deep empathy, Beth provides a necessary touch point of caring and communication that leaves a powerful impact.