by Lynda Frost


The growing emergence of certified peer specialists as mainstays of the behavioral health care system is one of the most important and exciting developments in 21st century behavioral health. Forensic peer support, which seeks to integrate the principles of mental health recovery into the criminal justice system, is both a natural evolution of the concept and an exciting new professional frontier. There is a growing recognition that the unique advantages of peer support services – that they promote hope, recovery, self-advocacy, and personal responsibility – are especially compelling for individuals who are or have been involved with the criminal justice system.

This paper by the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) “explore[s] the use of mental health peer support services as one way to support recovery, improve continuity of care, and reduce recidivism for inmates with mental illness during the re-entry process.” Not only does the report further establish the value and efficacy of peer support in improving quality of life and supporting recovery for people with mental health conditions, but it also makes a compelling case for the expansion of peer support services into criminal justice settings.

On December 9, 2014, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and CPPP are co-hosting an exciting event: a community forum with Dr. Larry Nulton and Elissa Gies, both of Peerstar LLC, a private provider organization that has established an innovative peer support re-entry program in local Pennsylvania county jails.  The forum will also feature a first-person narrative by peer support specialist Tuesday Marler and insights from Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and Center for Health Care Services CEO Leon Evans. The forum will explore the challenges and opportunities of release from jail for individuals with lived experience of mental illness and will highlight the potential of a Peer Support Re-Entry Program in which an individual with lived experience of mental illness provides support and guidance to an individual with lived experience during the transition from a local county jail into a recovery-oriented life. Our aim is to close the revolving door for individuals with mental illness cycling in and out of jail by ensuring that they are supported during a difficult transition and connect with community-based mental health care.

The forum will be held on Tuesday, December 9, 2014, from 9:00am to 12:00pm at the Hogg Foundation in Austin. If you are interested in participating in this event, please register by clicking the link below. Seating is limited and the forum is filling fast! A draft agenda is available here.

To register:

For those who cannot attend in person, the event will be live streamed here. You must register for a Livestream account, which is fast and free.

Hope to see you there!