What is Peer Support?
Peer support offers human connection, understanding, and provides hope to those experiencing mental illness, substance abuse, and or are affected by trauma through living experience. A person who has lived experience can recognize similarities that pave the way to a peer relationship to provide support and understanding built on mutuality and respect.
- PS have formal training in the peer specialist model of mental health and/or substance use disorder supports.
- PS are not clinical, but provide a therapeutic role by providing hope, coaching, supporting, and engaging others so they can move forward in their recovery.
- PS play a significant and important role in an individual’s recovery support team.
Our Space, Inc. perceived early on the value and importance of peer support. Our Space was the first organization in Milwaukee County and one of the first in the state of Wisconsin to offer peer support services. In 2004, Our Space with the Social Rehabilitation and Residential Resources began offering peer support services to residents of the Fardale Supportive Apartments. Over the next 15 years, Our Space expanded its peer support services to residents of supportive housing facilities across the metropolitan area, and now provides services to 170 residents in five facilities. In 2005, Our Space received funding from the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership to implement a peer specialist training program, the first in the Milwaukee area. With the hiring of a state-approved CPS trainer.
We Know It Works!
In 2016, Our Space partnered with Cenpatico now known as MHS, a private insurance company, to reduce the high utilization of emergency services. Through this pilot program, MHS identified members who volunteered to receive peer support. The results in the first year saw a dramatic reduction in the use of high-cost emergency services among members receiving peer support. While the services cannot be billed to Medicaid, the cost savings more than justified the continuation of the program in 2017 and beyond.