Newport Mental Health

Deb Carlson Wins National Honor

The National Council for Mental Wellbeing honored Newport Mental Health’s own Deborah “Deb” Carlson, CPRS, CCHW, with its Peer Specialist of the Year Award.

The National Council’s Peer Specialist of the Year Award recognizes individuals with lived experience who work in substance use and mental health treatment and care helping clients with their recovery.

Deb is Coordinator of Peer Services and Peer Support Supervisor at Newport Mental Health, where she created and developed the first Department of Peer Services. Deb started out in peer support as a dually certified Peer Recovery Specialist and Community Health Worker five years ago at Newport Mental Health. Since then, she has championed the peer specialist role as one worthy of parity in respect, equity and ability to help heal our communities.

The people in her community fuel Deb’s passion for fighting to end the stigma experienced by those living with behavioral health challenges and bringing our secrets into the light. She considers herself privileged to walk alongside others on their recovery journeys. “I share this honor with the thousands of peer supporters across this country who every day share their living experience with others in recovery, “ she said, “and with the people we serve who show up for their lives every day seeking hope for a better future. And, for those who have lost their lives, because the world was either too much or too little for them.”

Deb was unable to attend the conference in person in Los Angeles but an acceptance video was prerecorded and aired after Executive Vice President Dayna Gladstein acceptedthe physical award on her behalf. “We’re very proud of the work she’s done at Newport Mental Health,” Dayna said. “Let me tell you – Deb has a very soft voice ut she’s a very powerful woman. Through her advocacy for peers in our region we have come to learn that peers do something for recovery than no oneelse can do.”

She was nominated by Newport Mental Health’s President and CEO Jamie Lehane. “Deb Carlson is intelligent, articulate and a unique personality whose own life and recovery journey sets an extraordinary example for all those she meets,” said Lehane. “It is a thrill and an honor for all of us Newport County and Rhode Island to have one of our own key peer recovery members in the community, recognized as 2023 Peer Specialist of the Year.”

She was recognized during a general session at NatCon23 in Los Angeles, California, where more than 5,000 health care professionals will gather May 1-3 to learn and network.

“Nothing happens in the field of behavioral health without caring, capable peer specialists,” National Council for Mental Wellbeing President and CEO Chuck Ingoglia said. “Those with lived experience are the gateways and trusted voices for clients, and people like Deb Carlson are invaluable to organizations and the people they serve every day. We are forever grateful to Deb and to all peer specialists for their unselfish commitment to the profession and their advocacy on behalf of those with a substance use or mental health challenge.”