PRISM Program

MHA-WI is excited to announce... the PRISM Program!

The PRISM Program is a new pilot program to connect LGBTQ+ youth in Wisconsin with trained peer-specialists who can provide mental and emotional support and mentorship. PRISM stands for Peer Recovery in Supportive Mutuality. We see that connection based on community and solidarity has transformative power, similar to the way a prism refracts light to create a beautiful rainbow. 

Why peer support for LGBTQ+ youth? 

Sometimes, you need to lean on someone who understands what you’re going through. LGBTQ+ youth deal with certain burdens that their straight and cisgender peers do not, including the stress of coming out to friends and family members who may not fully understand their identity. As a population, LGBTQ+ youth report higher levels of depression and anxiety, social isolation, bullying, family rejection, substance use, and suicidal ideation and attempts than straight and cisgender youth. Stigma and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people is unfortunately still present in schools, healthcare, and the work place. Despite historical homophobia and transphobia, the LGBTQ+ community is resilient! Many LGBTQ+ individuals thrive with the help of a supportive community.  

So, what can peer support offer LGBTQ+ youth? Peer support is person-centered and strength-based. A peer specialist offers support and guidance based on their own first-hand experience with mental health and/or substance use challenges. Peer specialists do not diagnose or prescribe treatment, but they can listen, validate, and help you set and reach your own goals in your healing journey. Peer specialists who identify as LGBTQ+ can use their own knowledge of LGBTQ+ specific needs to help others with things like coming out, finding gender affirming care, relationship issues, and more. Young LGBTQ+ people can learn a lot from older mentors who have faced similar challenges. Peer support can empower LGBTQ+ youth to heal themselves and navigate resources that they need.  

How do we access PRISM services? 

The PRISM Program aims to serve LGBTQ+ youth ages 16-26 years old (roughly) living anywhere in Wisconsin. PRISM is exclusively virtual (for now) and available online and by phone. Starting in February 2021, PRISM's warmline will be available and reachable by phone call. A peer-specialist will follow up with you within 12 hours to set up a call or Zoom meeting. The peer specialist will ask you some question to get to know you and what you’re looking for support with. Depending on your situation, the peer specialist may want to have more than one virtual meeting with you. As you get to know the peer specialist, you can decide together how often you’d like to meet and what goals you’d like to work on together.  

Stay tuned for more updates about the warmline phone number and further details. In the meantime, please reach out to with any questions or concerns.

As opposed to a crisis line that is answered by a clinician and focuses on whether or not you may qualify for hospitalization or active rescue, a peer support line is answered by a trained peer supporter who has their own lived experience with mental health and/or substance use challenges and who is there to talk and offer support. The PRISM Program Support Line is not monitored 24/7 and should not be used as a crisis resource. If you are in imminent crisis, please try one of the following resources:  

Your local county crisis line (PSW Crisis Line Directory)  
Trevor Project Lifeline (call 1-866-488-7386 OR text START to 678-678) 
Trans Lifeline (call 877-565-8860)  
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)