Nevada Caring Contacts is an innovative statewide peer-led program operated by NAMI Western Nevada (NAMI WNV), an agency that primarily serves 15 rural and frontier counties. The agency’s mission is dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals, families, and communities impacted by mental illness through support, education, and advocacy. NAMI WNV created the statewide Nevada Warmline, Nevada Teen Peer Support Text Line, and Nevada Caring Contacts programs to provide high-quality peer support to Nevadans.
In September 2022, the Nevada Caring Contacts program was nationally recognized as a winner of the first-ever behavioral health Recovery Innovation Challenge. The goal of this challenge is to identify innovations developed by peer-run or community-based organizations that advance recovery. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) received more than 350 submissions and chose only 10 winners to receive $40,000 in prize money and innovation recognition.
The Nevada Caring Contacts program is the future of peer support in suicide and hospital prevention, intervention, and postvention. The program advances recovery by supporting peers within their community in ways that promote reaching their full potential through a self-directed approach. The design of the program also creates meaningful employment opportunities for peers to continue to grow in their personal recovery journey. Nevada Caring Contacts is peer-built, peer-led, and peer-delivered, and the success of the program so far highlights the passion and commitment of the peers at NAMI Western Nevada.
Laura Yanez, Executive Director of NAMI WNV and Cherylyn Rahr-Wood, MSW, Regional Behavioral Health Coordinator, Nevada Rural Hospital Partners (former Zero-Suicide Coordinator) are both credited with development and implementation of the program in Nevada. Ms. Yanez and Ms. Rahr-Wood have been invited to present at the NAMICon 2023 in Minneapolis, MN (May 24-27) to educate attendees on suicide prevention, and the Nevada Caring Contacts program design and implementation.