Behavioral Health: Mary Neubauer
Certified peer specialist
Community Advocates Inc. – Autumn West
Mary Neubauer is a respected leader in the mental health community. She serves as co-chair of the Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force, is a co-founder of the Office of Consumer Affairs at the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division, was instrumental in the establishment of statewide peer specialist curricula and exams, and is a trainer for the Crisis Intervention Team program.
She’s also a recovering alcoholic, a patient of the mental health system, and a tireless advocate for patients going through the same experiences she went through.
Neubauer works as a certified peer specialist at Autumn West Safe Haven, a program of Community Advocates Inc. in Milwaukee.
Autumn West provides dual assistance for people who are homeless and living with a mental illness, Neubauer said. Residents are given immediate shelter and support services that help them become healthy and independent.
“My job is to provide a sense of normalcy for their recovery, and through my own life, be a model of recovery,” she said.
Neubauer offers hope and inspiration to those struggling to rebuild their own lives.
“Homelessness doesn’t discriminate,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who you are.”
Throughout her own recovery, some of her health care providers told her on more than one occasion that she might live independently, but she’d never have any transferrable skills for the workplace.
Neubauer earned her master’s degree in social work after going back to school at the age of 57. She works at Autumn West, and is also the co-chair of the Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force, a coalition of more than 40 organizations that work collaboratively to identify issues faced by people affected by mental illness, facilitate improvements in services, and act as a voice to reduce stigmas and improve recovery programs.
Neubauer has been instrumental in advancing policy changes on the local, state and national levels, and has tackled issues around mental health parity, as well as funding for community services.
“I’m a human being; I face challenges myself,” she said. “It’s about being honest. Every day I go to work and I get a gift back. That’s how it is for me. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything.”