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5 Questions for Maxine Brisport

5 questions for typography
Maxine Brisport
Troy Teachers Association retiree

You’ve worked with the Peer Support Line since August 2022. How did you prepare for the role?

I received two weeks of training, including handling crisis calls, suicide prevention and connecting to 988, the suicide and crisis lifeline. We learned the American Society for Addiction Medicine criteria and how to recognize the signs of an opioid overdose. We also received information about HIPPA and medical and professional compliance and receive extensive ongoing training. When I took my first call, I knew I was well prepared to handle whatever the client needed.


You retired last year from the Troy City School District. Does your background as a school psychologist help in this work?

Yes, 100 percent. As a school psychologist I worked directly with students conducting psych evaluations. The terminology is the same, and I’m well versed in it, and I have a background in dealing with behavioral issues and a lot of experience in family engagement.

Maxine Brisport stands smiling wearing a grey blazer, patterned blouse and black pants

Kara Smith


What type of callers have you helped?

We’ve already answered over 400 calls since the program launched. I have callers experiencing a mental health crisis, and those who need grief counseling or to get help for a family member or colleague. A big part of the job is providing referrals. I have contact numbers for Employee Assistance Programs across the state.

Many retirees call seeking community support, such as finding a home health aide or getting help with housing issues. Some callers just need someone to listen. Although the average call is around 20 minutes, I’ve spoken with callers for over an hour.


What’s the protocol for callers who are in obvious distress?

If someone calls who we believe is a danger to themselves, we have clinicians on staff to intervene. We can do three-way, merged calls in cases like that. We use the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale to assess a caller’s mental state.

Callers also reach out to us about labor issues. As a former building rep, I have some experience in that area. However, if someone is in danger of losing a job, or facing a job security issue, we refer them to their labor relations specialist.


Do you consider the Peer Support Line a valuable program?

Having the support of administration and the school board allows me to implement new districtwide initiatives seamlessly. Our community partners also keep us going. And, of course, funding is important. My first year we had zero budget. Since then, we’ve received (state) aid and we also continuously write grants. A former board member recently created the Saranac Lake Community School Foundation to ensure our community school will continue.

Contact the Peer Support Line at 844-444-0152 nysut.org/PeerSupport. Peer Support Line logo

Peer Support Line logo Contact the Peer Support Line at 844-444-0152 nysut.org/PeerSupport.