FACTS ABOUT PEER-OPERATED ORGANIZATIONS
Peer- operated organizations offer a variety of proven recovery tools, staffed by people who have, themselves, recovered from mental illness and chemical dependency. They can offer education and support through peer to peer counseling, recovery classes, simple seasonal therapeutic activities, companionship, coordinated rides, healthy meals, employment, housing and legal representation – all while providing hope through the living, breathing example of recovered peers.
Peer-operated programs are extremely cost effective and for every dollar spent on these services, the state is saving hundreds of dollars on more expensive intensive treatment programs and law enforcement. This peer-to-peer approach saves state dollars by preventing cycling through the courts, prisons, hospitals, intensive residential treatment centers, and emergency services.
Peer-operated Services are a pathway out of stigma, discrimination, ineffective treatment, and chronic poverty, and demonstrates that behavioral health consumers are a group that contribute to their communities, rather than a group that must be hidden away as an unsolvable, embarrassing problem. Peer operated programs conduct education campaigns that increase knowledge about mental health care, they train consumers to be leaders and workers in the system, they strengthen the consumer voice throughout the state and across the country, they develop media and training materials that are culturally appropriate to diverse groups, they partner with academic institutions to develop self-help service models, trainings and innovative ways to promote recovery, they involve people in legislation that impacts the healthcare system.
Research has proved the effectiveness of peer provided services. Peer-operated programs such as drop-in centers, case management programs, outreach programs, businesses, employment and housing programs, and crisis services are a growing part of the behavioral health consumer movement. Research conducted by the SAMHSA shows that consumers are satisfied with peer provided services and that programs met their objectives - people participate in peer provided services because they work.
Peer provided services prevent re-hospitalization. An evaluation of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) Peer Bridger Project found that re-hospitalization rates during a two year period decreased from 60% to 19%, an improvement of 41% for individuals who were recipients of peer provided case management services. The study examined benefits of peer services including temporary relief from social isolation often experienced by people who are hospitalized and the ability to share with each other wisdom and survival skills necessary for the process of recovery.
Peer provided services foster independence. 70% of self-help groups report their members stay out of the hospital, hold a job and are living more independently and assuming more responsibility. (Rosenthal, H., Testimony Regarding the Results of the Research Study of the New York City Involuntary Outpatient Commitment Pilot Program, December 16, 1998).