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On giving peer support a real future

Posted Mar 23 2010 12:51pm

I see two diverging processes evident in the mental health system right now.  On the one hand, there is more and more support for the idea that peer support is a viable and even an intergral part of the effective deliverary of mental health services.  On the other hand, funds are getting more and more fragile.  Budgets are being cut.  And in many places those services associated with peer support are among the first on the chopping block.  They tend to be seen as more ancillary, “nice if we could afford it, but we cant afford it” kind of a thing.

I believe the key is simple.  As long as peer support programs are dependent upon large block grants from state governments to exist they will always be on shaky ground.  In the current climate the news will be more bad than good.  One way to define mental health is as “whatever insurance will pay for….”  Services that insurance reimburses survive and those they dont in the end die.

In Tennessee, programs based on peer support face draconian reductions in budget.  There are several efforts afoot to try to establish peer support as eligible for medicaid reimbursement.  In the success of this efforts, I think lie much of the hope for the future of peer support services in this state.

What is going on in your state?  I would love to hear about what you are trying to do and the success you are finding.  In sharing our experience and wisdom the future becomes greater for all of us.

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