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By Kelly Davis, MHA Director of Peer Advocacy, Supports, and Services

Health care is increasingly focused on the quadruple aim of better outcomes, lower costs, healthier populations, and happier providers. The drive to provide services that promote these goals means decisionmakers must be creative in supporting the people they serve.

In behavioral health, peer support specialists are key to meeting this aim. Research has demonstrated that peers create:

  • Better outcomes: People who receive peer support services have better outcomes including lower rates of depression, improved quality of life, increased hope, and improved social support.
  • Lower costs: Peers help lower costs by reducing rates of hospitalization and supporting individuals in taking control over their mental and physical health.
  • Healthier populations: Peer specialists engage people who might otherwise go without supports and present a more holistic approach to overall health and wellbeing, including behavior change around chronic physical health conditions.
  • Happier providers: Peers help reduce some of the stressors of the behavioral health workforce shortage by offering another option for support, and individuals who work with peers report better relationships with their providers.

While the use peer support services continue to increase in Medicaid, many decisionmakers are interested in how peer support can improve the lives of those they serve beyond its traditional use. As with any large change, there is also concern about how to integrate peers into existing systems and organizations. From quality assurance to workforce preparation to measurement to payment, there is a lot to consider in introducing peers.

To share insights and best practices, MHA has developed a new virtual learning series for leaders in health care. The upcoming sessions include:

Whether you just heard about peer support or have implemented peer programs, these learning sessions will give you essential information, connect you with other professionals, and help prepare you to make changes in your organization that will improve the mental health of those you serve and the health of your organization.

Have questions? Contact Kelly Davis at kdavis@mentalhealthamerica.net for more information.

Sources:

The Value of Peers, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2017)

Evidence for Peer Support, Mental Health America (2018)

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