Advancing Peer Support in Integrated Health Care
The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin has awarded $900,000 in grants to three Texas community health centers (CHCs) to advance peer support in the delivery of integrated health care (IHC). Peer support is the principle and practice of incorporating individuals with lived experience of mental illness as key members of the care team. This grant program aims to further establish recovery and peer support as core principles in the delivery of care.
Texas is one of the states that certifies peer specialists and promotes the use of peer support in both inpatient and community-based mental health settings. Certified peer specialists work from the perspective of having “lived experience” of mental illness. They use their life experience and training to deliver peer support services in behavioral health settings to promote recovery and resiliency. In mental health speciality settings, peer specialists are becoming key participants in multidisciplinary treatment teams, and have proven their worth as a valuable complement to standard treatment approaches.
The Hogg Foundation strongly supports maximizing opportunities for peer specialists throughout the health care workforce. However, certified peer specialists are not common in CHC settings and the role of certified peer specialists working as treatment team members in these settings has not been thoroughly examined or evaluated. In Texas as elsewhere, CHCs serve as the health care public safety net. For many uninsured and under-insured individuals receiving health care at CHCs, it may be the only place for them to receive mental health services. Thus, this pilot has the potential to improve the delivery of physical health and behavioral health services through the use of peer support in CHCs.
The Advancing Peer Support in Integrated Health Care grant recipients are:
- Gulf Coast Health Center (Port Arthur)
- Hope Family Health Center (McAllen)
- Project Vida (El Paso).
Hogg Program Officer
Rick Ybarra serves as program officer for the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and leads the foundation’s Integrated Health Care Initiative. With over 25 years of clinical and administrative experience in both private and public sector behavioral health, Ybarra’s policy and program experience extends to county, state and national efforts promoting reforms, public policies and clinical practice to improve effective service delivery and health equity for racial/ethnic populations. Ybarra joined the foundation in 2007. For more on Ybarra, see his bio or follow his blog on health care reform.