Peer Support Makes the Cut

A 2018 research study funded by the National Institute for Health Research tested whether a self-management intervention facilitated by peer support workers could reduce rates of readmission to acute care for people discharged from crisis resolution teams, which provide intensive treatment from home following a crisis. High resource costs on critical care is a challenge for mental health services aiming to focus on supporting recovery and relapse is common. Some evidence supports self-management interventions as a way to prevent relapses, but their effectiveness had not been tested.

A recent randomized controlled trial recruited participants from six crisis resolution teams in England. Eligible participants (441) had been on crisis resolution team caseloads for at least a week and could give informed consent. Participants were randomly assigned to intervention and control groups. The control group was assigned 220 participants with the intervention group assigned 221 participants.

The intervention group was offered up to ten sessions with peer support staff that helped them complete a personal recovery workbook, formulation of personal recovery goals, and crisis plans. After reviewing data for readmission to acute care within 1 year, 83 participants in the control group were readmitted with 42 participants reported as having severe adverse events. The intervention group had 64 readmissions within 1 year with less than half (29) reported as having severe adverse events.

The study implies peer-delivered self-management reduces readmission to acute care. The health insurance plans are paying attention to the trend in research as well. Programs offered by Molina and Blue Cross include peer support services for mental health resources. Requiring employees with lived-experience opens a new conversation about employability and could change the matrix regarding how disability is perceived. The financial and human resource burden on the acute care system could be substantially reduced and service users would have more significant opportunities for sustained recovery.

Peer groups facilitated by PGPS are also accompanied by a Wellness Workbook, designed to explore seven aspects of wellness-focused on maintaining a balanced lifestyle and maximum quality of life. The workbook is for personal use and features a summary at the end to be shared with the group facilitator. Presentations are catered to subjects the participants have noted as an interest or need. All PGPS facilitators and volunteers have lived-experience, which contributes to building lasting rapport.

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