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CummingsAmanda

Amanda uses her experiences to help others struggling with mental health issues

Having struggled for years with mental health issues herself, Amanda Cummings is now on the front lines assisting people who are especially challenged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a mental health practitioner at People, Inc.’s location in Coon Rapids, Amanda provides one-on-one and group support, assisting people with crisis prevention planning, identifying coping mechanisms, and setting attainable goals. Amanda also links people up with community resources for housing and employment, as well as connects them with mental health therapists, treatment centers, and county case managers.

While Amanda supports people in a mental health crisis, she herself is supported by Rise’s Employment Consultant Ben Streitz who continues to check in regularly with Amanda via phone and text during this challenging time.

Ben has been assisting Amanda with her career goals since she started attending peer support groups Bridgeview Drop-In Center at the Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health and Well-Being in Fridley.

“The peer support specialist who led the groups lit a fire in me,” said Amanda, who had worked as a nurse in Maine for several years. “Her passion, along with having mental health challenges, sparked my passion and I knew then what I wanted to be – a mental health practitioner providing peer support.

“My therapist at Bridgeview, Julie Smith, referred me to Rise’s IPS (Individual Placement Support) services. Ben helped me look at things positively and make incremental plans toward realistic goals which made it all doable. He has been with me every step of the way.”

Amanda earned her certification in peer support and recovery training from RI International Consulting.

“It’s reassuring to me to know that Ben is not going away just because I am doing well,” added Amanda, who proudly reached her 90 days on the job April 13. “We formed a real partnership, and I know and really appreciate that he will continue to support me and keep in touch; he gives me hope and keeps me excited.”

Her IPS support team also includes LaNay Koralesky from Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) with whom she does benefits planning.

Amanda sees Julie weekly to continue working on and tweaking her coping skills, reframing my thoughts, and staying on a healthy route. “I also work at my daily maintenance plan remembering to take time for self-care which is so important as I wouldn’t be able to function and support others without first taking care of myself.”

“Amanda is not afraid to take on challenges and is passionate about helping others,” said Ben. “I will do whatever she needs me to do to be successful. People are counting on her compassionate support.”

“I’ve seen some pretty amazing things happen at People, Inc.,” Amanda said. “I feel fortunate I can use my experiences to help others, especially during these hard times.”

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