Peer Mentoring AND
FORENSIC PEER MENTORING
Georgia's Peer Mentoring Project, established in 2005, provides mentoring, peer support, and community-resource linkage to promote the successful transition of adults with behavioral health diagnoses returning to communities of their choice following psychiatric in-patient hospitalization.
Peer Mentors work in each of the five Georgia Regional Hospital catchment areas (Central State Hospital in Milledgeville; East Central Regional Hospital in Augusta; Georgia Regional Hospital in Atlanta; Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah; and West Central Georgia Regional Hospital in Columbus), in Crisis Centers throughout Georgia, with Mobile Crisis Teams, and in the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network's Peer Support, Wellness, and Respite Centers.
Peer Mentors assist identified adults receiving psychiatric inpatient care with their transition back into community living. Initially, Peer Mentors meet their peers in a Georgia Regional Hospital inpatient setting or other venue, and then assist them as they re-enter various community settings. Peer Mentors may assist with resource linkage, discharge planning, and social connections.
Peer mentors support the implementation, by the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, of the United States Supreme Court Olmstead decision, mandating transition of consumers from psychiatric institutions into the community. To learn more about the Olmstead case, and the courageous citizens behind that decision, please visit this Department of Justice Civil Rights Division webpage.
Forensic Peer Mentoring
Georgia's Forensic Peer Mentoring Project, established in 2015, provides support, linkage, and care coordination to promote the successful community reintegration of adults with behavioral health diagnoses returning to the community following incarceration.
Forensic Peer Mentors have had personal lived experience with the criminal justice system. The Forensic Peer Mentor works with returning citizens/participants who are within 3-18 months of their release date/tentative parole month. They work together onsite within an assigned state correctional facility, or in a Georgia Day Reporting Center, as well as in the community after release. The Forensic Peer Mentor provides support, including linkage and assistance in developing transportation plans to community services to facilitate access to entitlements, community based behavioral health supports and other services.
Peer Mentors and Forensic Peer Mentors:
Are people living in recovery from mental health and/or substance use disorder diagnoses;
Operate from the perspective that everyone who has lived experience with mental health and/or substance use challenges has the capacity to recover and successfully live lives of meaning and purpose in the communities of their choice;
Use a person-centered approach to engagement, with mental health, substance use, and co-occurring conditions;
Provide trauma-informed, culturally-competent direct services.
Serve as role-models, and share problem-solving and recovery-focused skills;
Perform a wide range of tasks aimed at creating mutual relationships with peers in hopes that the peers will regain control over their lives and over their recovery process; and,
Are graduates of a recognized Peer Specialist training such as Georgia Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) or Georgia Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist (CARES) Training, and have completed the relevant peer mentoring training.
“From Prison to Purpose” was produced by the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities in partnership with the Georgia Department of Corrections, the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, and the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network; and features instrumental stakeholders responsible for the program’s inception, development and growth. The video highlights how the Forensic Peer Mentor Program plays an integral role in interrupting the cycle of recidivism amongst Georgia’s returning citizens.
Forensic Peer Mentoring Training Project
In 2018, the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network applied for and received a Statewide Consumer Network Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to develop a Georgia-specific Forensic Peer Mentoring Training Program, which will allow Georgia to expand the success in reducing recidivism. This three-year project is currently underway. In March 2019, GMHCN concluded a series of six listening sessions across the state, where we heard from Georgia's communities about what they need to improve the lives of our justice-involved citizens, including those who are returning to their communities from correctional facilities. One listening session was held in each of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities six regions. Based on what was learned on those sessions, a curriculum for a Forensic Peer Mentor Training is now being developed, and will be implemented over the course of 2019-2021.
For more information or to get involved, please contact the Forensic Peer Mentor Training Development Project Director, Lindsey Sizemore, at firstname.lastname@example.org.