Avon, Conn. — Magellan Health Services, Inc., has partnered with Appalachian Consulting Group to train peer specialists to provide Peer Support Whole Health (PSWH) services. An evidence-based behavioral health practice, PSWH focuses on improving the overall physical and mental health of individuals with mental illnesses to help them achieve their health and wellness goals.
“Studies have shown that people with serious mental illness served by the public mental health system have a life expectancy that is on average, 25 years shorter than the general population,” said Tom Lane, CRPS, national director, consumer and recovery services for Magellan’s public sector team.
“This is due, in large part, to the impact of avoidable and treatable medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. We believe that, by addressing the health needs of a ‘whole person,’ through the use of peers we can increase the longevity of those we serve and help them live longer, healthier and productive lives.”
A critical component of PSWH is the involvement of peer specialists—individuals who are recovering from mental illnesses themselves who are trained and certified to help others with mental health challenges move forward with their own recovery. During PSWH training, peer specialists are taught key strategies for peer-based interventions designed to support individuals in changing lifestyle behaviors to promote overall health and wellness.
“PSWH creates an exciting new role for peer specialists who have historically been primarily focused on mental health, because it promotes self-directed resiliency and whole health improvement,” said Larry Fricks, director of ACG. “Magellan’s work to expand this transformational approach to mental health throughout the country is testament to its commitment to improving the lives of individuals served by the public mental health system.”
Magellan plans to conduct PSWH training for all of its public sector contracts and is developing groundbreaking ways to measure its impact on overall health outcomes. According to Lane, peer specialists can empathize with individuals and establish a strong bond that increases the likelihood an individual will succeed in his or her recovery.
"Now, as a result of the PSWH training, peer specialists are ideally positioned to also help an individual reach his or her total health and wellness goals,” he explained.
The PSWH training was developed through the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) Technology Transfer Initiative (TTI) grant, awarded to Georgia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).