For the next 16 months, researchers at the University of Georgia School of Social Work will be developing an assessment tool that the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities can use to tackle issues surrounding those in addiction or mental health recovery.
As reported in The Red & Black, the project helps state policymakers identify issues that cause people 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. Currently, over a thousand certified peer specialists help about 160,000 individuals.
Peer specialists are also in recovery but are “trained and certified by the state to assist others who face similar problems.”
Research shows that people in recovery do better in society when they get help from someone who was in a similar situation.
Mowbray and his team will examine the impact of peer support, individual improvement and the efficiency of the programs.
In 1999, Georgia was the first state to put into effect statewide peer support. Since then, 42 other states have followed its 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.”
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