Peer Support Specialist Network of Maine

Amistad applied for and was approved for a grant (The Statewide Consumer Network Grant Program) sponsored by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The purpose of this project is to improve the health outcomes experienced by people with serious mental illness in the state of Maine.  Numerous studies document that individuals with serious mental illness suffer from chronic illness at higher rates, have less access to quality health care, and die, on average, 25 years earlier than people in the population at-large.  During our Peer Services work in various hospital settings, as well as in our Peer Patient Navigator project, we have found that Peer Services are far less expensive than traditional provider services, and in many cases, result in more positive health outcomes.  This is consistent with national data. We intend to improve the health outcomes for this group by demonstrating the efficacy of Peer Services, by developing a powerful advocacy effort and statewide network, and ultimately, by enabling Peers to take leadership in the delivery of health care services. Expanded Peer Services will result in increased health for consumers of mental health services, improved use of health care and overall reduced health care costs. Our efforts, combined with the demonstrated costs savings associated with Peer Services and documented improvement in health outcomes, will ensure that Peer Services are adopted widely throughout Maine.
The goals of the project are as follows: 
1)  We will develop a Statewide Consumer Network comprised of Peer Support workers and volunteers.
We believe that Peer Services should have an important place in the health care service mix, and the strongest advocates for Peer Services are people who are already demonstrating the effectiveness of the model on a daily basis.  There are approximately 40 people currently working as Certified Peer Support Specialists throughout the state of Maine.  These individuals work within the behavioral health system and perform the type of services that we will advocate in favor of expanding.  Individuals who join the Network will take the lead in advocating for Peer Services.
2)  We will develop educational materials and formal service models that demonstrate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of existing Peer Services; how to implement Peer Services in the health care system; and how to recruit, select, hire and train peers.
Peer Services are still in their infancy.  Although strides have been made in recent years, Peer Services currently exist in isolated pockets, are not uniformly implemented, and information about their effectiveness has not been widely disseminated.  An opportunity is available to share information and promote Peer Services among stakeholders, as well as to begin to define and formalize a service model that can be useful in implementing Peer Services as openness to the idea becomes more widespread.
3)  We will advocate and negotiate among policy makers, organization administrators and other stakeholders for the creation and expansion of Peer Services programs at health care and behavioral health settings across the state.
All of our activities will take place with the goal of integrating Peer Services into current health care reform efforts in a way that is likely to result in better outcomes for individuals with mental illness and substance use issues.  As such, the Consumer Network Director and members of the Peer Support Specialist Network will reach out to policy makers, program administrators, reporters and other stakeholders with the aim of educating, advocating and finally negotiating the work of peers into the service mix.
Please visit our facebook group for information and updates
If you are interested in joining and participating with our Network, please contact:
Mindy M. Harrison
Peer Support Specialist Network Director
Office phone: 773-1956 x108