Name of Innovative Program:
Mental Health Peer Support in Places of Incarceration
Name of Innovative Program Lead:
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
The goal of the project was to bring the power of mental health peer support to those who are incarcerated in the psychiatric units with a release date from a few days up to perhaps 30 days. While receiving peer support in the facility potential growth by the inmate could be achieved on various items upon release including housing, employment, mental and physical healthcare as well as other needs. The project also allowed for released inmates - ex-offenders - to have a single point of contact upon returning to their community. This aspect increased the probability that the ex-offender would continue to receive and / or seek care.
Creativity and Innovation:
The idea for this project stemmed from the mother of someone that was incarcerated who had hear of the work of our pro-bono entity. She had asked if it would be possible for us to go to the jail to speak with this person. There was no question that we would and in making the appropriate conections we became into contact with our Sheriff's department to pilot a project, as describe above, for other inmates as well.It is important that mental health peer support reach all populations that may obtain benefit thereof and working inside such a facility simply required us to modify our standard method of operations and be prepared for a different set of needs to be expressed. It is believe this pilot was the first such pilot ever done in the State of Texas.
As I sit on the local Mental Health Advisory Board and work with other groups to improve the service delivery of mental health in our area, I see much more discussion and involvment of mental health conditions and the criminal justice system. We will be revisiting the mental health peer support pilot while at the same time engaging with our Local Mental Health Authority to see what they may be able to do to provide services inside the facility as well as outside; thereby providing an inmate / ex-offender with warm hand-offs to various services.It is certainly my obligation to push these movements forward; in my jurisdiction and in my State.
On this project we have had to face several hurdles; one of them being sustainability due to funding. We are a pro-bono entity and we would not be able to devote enough resources to maintain a fairly in-depth program. We also understand that our Local Mental Health Authority may not be able to provide such services, or other services, as they would not be able to charge back reimbursement requests to Medicaid. Our group will be looking at a funding option which has gained popularity across the Country: Social Impact Bonds. As far as we can discern, these SIB's are driving by local governments and this could be a very touch sell to politicians. Hence, we may very well try to modify to SIB formula to be geared more directly towards corporations to fund; either through return on investment, employment, or philanthropy.
This project is such that it is easily replicated. When we began to study our population group we had to make decisions on a) types of crimes committed, b) length of remaining stay in the facility, c) previous access and / or use of social agencies. We picked a certain market and that market is quite easily replicated. Shifting from one market to another market within the incarcerated population may certainly need some re-thinking and re-formulating of process flows. This in turn might create more of an expense at the very outset yet not anything significant especially if that model can be replicated as well.
We found metrics to be difficult to measure and bringing evidenced based results to light. We were cerrtainly able to keep track on discussions, pressing needs, types of assistance - aside from mental health peer support - given / offered. We had also desired to track which ex-offenders would seek services at the Local Mental Health Authority yet it is by no stretch of the imagination that ex-offenders may quickly drop out of any assistance and return to their previous pathways. I believe that more coordination with the County and the ability to access certain HIPAA items would provide a more robust ability to track outcomes.