B3 Sharing your Story: A Journey in Ownership, Building Community, and Reducing Stigma


In this workshop, participants will learn important considerations when preparing to speak publicly about their mental health experiences, be able to generate ideas about what they might include when sharing their own stories, and strategize for reflections and debriefs after sharing their stories.


Emma Goltz Emma is a rising senior in the Early Childhood Special Education program at the University of Maine at Farmington. She is also a graduate of the PIER program and has had her own lived experiences with struggling with mental health. Since graduating the PIER program, she has stayed engaged with youth peer support and in the fall of 2021 became a group peer support facilitator with the Youth Peer Support Statewide Network through MaineHealth. The group she runs with two other facilitators is called Exploring Unique Experiences, a place where peers can come together to talk about mental health experiences in a supportive and non-judgemental space. Emma also speaks often about her experiences in the PIER program and other steps in her mental health journey to adolescents starting different programs, families, and also providers in the mental health or family medicine field. Emma feels passionate about sharing her mental health story and uplifting the voices of others to share their experiences, as she knows there is power in community and connection. Outside of her role as a college student and a mental health advocate, Emma loves to ride horses, play with her dog named Rocky, and make art.

Elias Peirce Elias works as a Youth Peer Support Partner for the Portland Identification and Early Referral (PIER) Program. Prior to joining the PIER team, he worked as an English teacher, a grocer, and a writer. Since starting his work with PIER in 2021, Elias has developed more and more appreciation for the Intentional Peer Support model, particularly its emphasis on making meaning from confusing thoughts and intense emotions, its explicit articulation of boundaries in relationship, and the autonomy it grants young people who are struggling with mental health challenges. Outside of work, Elias spends most of his time writing, rock climbing, and eating food with people he loves.

Markus Perry Markus has grown up in the world of theater, focusing on public speaking and singing. He is a speaker for mental health who has experienced personal struggles with it his whole life. He entered into therapy at age 12 and has done considerable research into mental health and coping mechanisms since. His goal has always been to further understanding of mental health and assist in bringing inner peace to as many people as possible. He went directly from college to the PIER program for assistance and then into the speakers bureau to help people who have similar struggles as he did. His transition to speaker was natural considering an extensive background performing and speaking in front of crowds. Outside of speaking he likes reading and analyzing literature, wood burning, cooking and drawing.

Kevin Segal Kevin is a student at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston where he studies Mechanical Engineering. He started his mental health journey at a young age, struggling with suicide and suicidal ideation in middle and high school. He entered into Portland Identification and Early Referral (PIER) Program in 2018 while struggling with psychotic symptoms. Since graduating the program he has become one of the founding members of the PIER Speakers Bureau, speaking to young adults and parents about his personal experiences and what has helped him to grow as an individual struggling with psychotic symptoms. In his free time Kevin enjoys hiking, rock climbing, traveling, and hanging out with friends and family.

Saras Yerlig Saras is a peer support supervisor at MaineHealth. She has been practicing Intentional Peer Support since 2018 and began working as a peer support specialist at the Portland Identification and Early Referral (PIER) program in 2019. She enjoys forming authentic, mutual relationships with people who are in the midst of significant struggle and values being open about her own lived experience as a means of building connection. As part of an effort to create better understanding and acceptance around unique experiences (such as changes in experiences of reality, hearing voices, sensory changes, confusing thoughts, etc.) Saras supports a Speakers Bureau of youth/young adults in the PIER program. She is excited to support young adults from this group in presenting about “Sharing Your Story” at the HOPE conference. Outside of work, she enjoys dancing, outdoor adventures, and connecting with friends and family.