Researchers at the University of Georgia School of Social Work are going to develop an assessment tool for the next 16 months that the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities can use to address issues surrounding people in addiction or mental health recovery.
The project will help state policymakers identify issues that lead people who are in recovery to end up back in hospitals, jails or homelessness.
“This will be the first statewide assessment to look at all the different ways peer support is provided throughout the state,” said Orion Morbway, associate professor of social work and principal investigator for the project, in a news release. “We’re collecting data on the current system and will provide advice on how to better evaluate the peer support program.”
The DBHDD supports mental health and substance abuse prevention and intervention programs. Today, more than a thousand certified peer specialists assist nearly 160,000 individuals.
Peer specialists are those in recovery who are “trained and certified by the state to assist others who face similar problems.” Research indicates that people in recovery function better in society when receiving help from someone who was in a similar situation.
Mowbray and his team will examine the impact of peer support, impact on individual improvement and the efficacy of the programs.
In 1999, Georgia was the first state to implement statewide peer support. Since then, 42 other states have followed Georgia’s lead in implementing the service.
“In terms of the delivery of peer support service, Georgia tends to be at the forefront nationally,” Mowbray said. “There are not a lot of other states that I can think of that have peer support service integrated into multiple forms of public mental health services. That’s very forward thinking.”