We had two days of Robyn Priest in Milwaukee doing a presentation last night about boundaries and ethics and then keynoting a meeting today. I had a good time networking. At one point I remarked about the change in peer support from a few years ago. The number of providers offering peer support was relatively small and the pay was horrible. We talked a lot about how bad conditions were. Today the talk was focused on billing Medicaid, evidence based practices and collaboration between clinicians and peers.
Based upon supply and demand, it probably will not be uncommon to see people holding down a full time and a part time job. We might also find people migrating down from upstate Wisconsin to Milwaukee or Dane County where jobs are more available. The leading agency offering peer support may be TLS which boasts of having 18 peer workers.
We saw the new peer workers from La Causa which is operating a great new program. They will be helping to link people who use inpatient mental health services with community services to help reduce recidivism. A similar program operated by NAMI in cooperation with Grassroots Empowerment Project has done well with people using health maintenance organizations. One of the NAMI peer workers has moved on to LaCausa, which offers full and part time positions.
Talk focused on how Milwaukee County will be shifting from hospital based care to more community based help for people as it continues to shrink the size of its mental hospital. One thing that is worth noting is how recent the changes in policies and procedures leading to the peer revolution. These changes may be seen as fulfilling the promise made years ago about community based mental health in the Kennedy administration. The ideas, the funding, the science, the will and all the rest came together but there is still a long way to go. But for a fortuuntae few, the road became a lot smoother.