Learn a little about Sarah, our Evaluation and Policy Specialist, and why she joined PEERS
By Sarah Marxer
My title at PEERS is Evaluation and Policy Specialist. I am responsible for leading PEERS’ evaluation, reporting, policy, and advocacy efforts. If you’ve ever been asked to fill out an evaluation form after a PEERS event, and wondered what happens to that information — I’m the one who listens to what you have to say, and shares that information with the people who need it. The advocacy and policy side of my work is in collaboration with many partners here in Alameda County and across the state; I work to bring the voices and values of the peer movement into the policy process.
I began my working life training and supporting youth leaders to take action on public health issues in their schools and communities. Later, I worked to develop programs with and for LGBTQ+ and immigrant youth. After getting a master’s degree in public policy, I put my analytical skills in service of the well-being of children by joining the team that developed and manages kidsdata.org. More recently, I was on the research team at an Oakland non-profit focusing on racial and economic justice.
I came to PEERS because I was increasingly compelled to merge my professional skills with my strong desire to change the mental health system for the better. As a parent, I had experience with virtually all aspects of our local children’s and young adult system of care. In seeking support for my family, I found that people with lived experience of mental health challenges were the greatest sources of hope, power, and wisdom. PEERS’ commitment to eliminating mental health stigma and creating “a world where people with mental health experiences are valued for their essential contributions to society” drew me right in.
I treasure the PEERS community and the broader peer community in Alameda County. I think the time is ripe for mental health to be recognized as a social justice issue, and I believe that achieving mental health justice will help to build a better world for everyone.