News /John George Peer Mentor Program sees 68 percent decrease in patient re-hospitalization
PEERS and John George Psychiatric Pavilion's collaboration on the Peer Mentor Program is groundbreaking and improving the lives of individuals with mental health challenges. The program, funded through the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), has been around for just over a year, but is already making major strides. At midpoint, the pilot program has seen a 68 percent drop in mentees returning to the John George Psychiatric Pavilion in Alameda County, according to PEERS Executive Director Khatera Aslami.
"People in the John George Peer Mentor Program say it has been life-saving," Aslami said.
The program provides friendly support to consumers who have been discharged from the psychiatric hospital and are transitioning back to day-to-day life. The program currently hosts 30 participants and 26 mentors. All of the mentors themselves have lived experience with mental health challenges, hospitalizations, and recovery.
"It's the human contact that makes this program work," said Abu Rahim, PEERS Coordinator of the John George Peer Mentor Program. "The participant is in the driver's seat. However they want or need assistance, we'll find a way to assist them."
Rahim also said that when consumers are discharged from the hospital, they often have no support or guidance. For the many who come from broken homes, seeking support there is not an option.
"That is one of the reasons why mentors help participants discover their own strengths," said PEERS Empowerment Coordinator Yaffa Alter. As the previous coordinator of the program, Alter said the early stages of the program featured weekly presentations and visits to meet with social workers, nurses, and therapists at John George. These interactions encouraged involvement of the consumer's care team.
The mentorship program launched after John George Psychiatric Pavilion was awarded a MHSA Innovations Project grant from Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services. PEERS' role in the project is to train and support those who mentored individuals leaving the psychiatric emergency room. All prospective mentors completed a five-day, 40-hour training called "The Art of Facilitating Self-Determination." In addition, most of the mentors received facilitator certification in Wellness Recovery Action Planning. Mentees have access to their mentors, WRAP support groups, and much more throughout Alameda County.
"Sometimes society tends to focus on people's disabilities," Aslami said. "But when you focus on someone's abilities, that gives them hope. And hope is vital for a consumer in recovery."
To learn more about the John George Peer Mentor Program, call 510-832-7337.