National Council Magazine - Winter 2009 - (Page 20)
Peer Support Consumers Take Charge of Wellness Larry Fricks, Director, Appalachian Consulting Group, and Vice President of Peer Services, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance P eer Support Whole Health is a peer-driven plan for transformation of the mental health system. In this approach, a peer specialist helps a peer choose and record a health goal in an individual service plan funded by Medicaid-billable peer support and then provides peer support to help the person reach that goal. Peer Support Whole Health was created when Georgia received a $221,000 Transformation Transfer Initiative grant from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors in 2009 to transform its trained peer workforce to promote holistic recovery to offset the premature death of public sector mental health consumers. the concept of Peer Support Whole Health and how to bill Medicaid for the services. >> Train more than 10 percent of Georgia’s peer specialist workforce in Peer Support Whole Health. >> Train mental health consumers statewide on Peer Support Whole Health. “In Georgia, we’re beginning with peer support to emphasize wellness and then hope to learn where we go next in transforming mental healthcare systems,” says Wendy White Tiegreen, who oversees the provider network for Georgia’s Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases. “It was an awakening moment for our leadership,” says Sherry Jenkins Tucker, GMHCN’s executive director. “We began to shift our focus to wellness, securing a federal grant to promote WRAP [Wellness Recovery Action Plans] and using our annual conferences to promote whole health.” That focus on holistic recovery has grown: GMHCN has been funded by the state to open the ﬁrst peer support and wellness center in an Atlanta suburb. So far, the center has cut hospitalizations by a third using peer support and a focus on staying well. The program has been so successful that Georgia plans to expand the peer-operated wellness centers statewide. SUCCESS IN MICHIGAN AND NEW JERSEY It appears that training peers to promote holistic recovery is gaining momentum nationwide. Georgia is joined by Michigan and New Jersey in landing TTI grants to use the peer workforce to focus on health. Among preventable medical conditions, cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death for mental health consumers. In Michigan, the Georgiabased Appalachian Consulting Group, designed and piloted Peer Support Whole Health training focused on reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic factors. “Michigan has a big investment in a peer specialist network of more than 500 peers,” says Pam Werner, who directs the peer support program for the Michigan Department of Community Health. “When peers learned of NASMHPD’s morbidity and mortality report [persons with mental illness dying 25 years younger], they were outraged and demanded that we as policymakers do something about it. We’ve listened to their demands and have begun our whole-health initiative with peers in the forefront.” According to Jean Dukarski, program director for Justice in Mental Health Organization, a consumerrun center in Lansing that participated in the Michigan pilot project, “The focus on Peer Support Whole Health changed the center; individuals started ad- Peers connect with peers, creating a network that understands their health issues and supports their actions for self-directed whole health. Ike Powell, Director of Training, Appalachian Consulting Group The ﬁve objectives of the new Transformation Transfer Initiative grant, to be completed by October 2009, are to: >> Demonstrate that Medicaid will pay for the utilization of peer support services to achieve wholehealth goals. >> Demonstrate with data collection at two peer centers the impact of peer support services on the achievement of whole-health goals. >> Introduce Georgia providers and management to 20 / NATIONAL COUNCIL MAGAZINE • WINTER 2009 Tiegreen — who also serves as the acting director of Medicaid coordination helped — draft the state’s peer support service deﬁnition, which laid the foundation for peer specialists to promote whole health as part of Medicaid-billable services. That foundation was strengthened by the leadership of Georgia consumers. At its 2006 annual convention, the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network (which was founded nearly 2 decades ago and has a membership of 3,000) was bombarded with requests for refrigeration for diabetes medication.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of National Council Magazine - Winter 2009
National Council Magazine - Winter 2009