Based on the recommendation from the 2016 Eastern Montana Behavioral Health Crisis Response and Jail Diversion Strategic Plan (pg. 54 of plan) to “Create and sustain peer crisis support services to assist persons in crisis,” Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center applied for and was awarded a grant from the Montana Healthcare Foundation to begin implementation of a peer support project to develop and implement peer crisis support services to assist people who are struggling with mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and other co-occurring health disorders in eastern Montana. Which in turn will lead to a reduction in the number of mental health crises being treated in emergency rooms, the number of people transported and admitted to higher levels of care for behavioral health crisis, and the number of contacts individuals in behavioral health crises have with law enforcement agencies and detention centers. Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center has partnered with Montana’s Peer Network and regional hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and social service agencies to implement this program.
Currently there are 100 peer support specialists in Montana, but Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center’s peer support specialists in Custer, Rosebud, Dawson, Richland, Sheridan and Valley Counties are the only ones east of Billings. The model of peer support is not new to the nation, but it is only recently getting off the ground in Montana.
The peer support system was designed to provide a peer support network to assist people with any number of issues, such as substance abuse, mental health or even trauma, based on the lived experiences of the peer support specialist. Peer support is not intended to replace professional care by a mental health provider, but rather to facilitate access to support from people who have shared similar experiences with substance abuse, mental health and so on. Peer Support Specialists promote the recovery concepts of hope, self-advocacy, education, peer support and personal responsibility at no cost. The costs are paid for through the grant from the Montana Healthcare Foundation. If you would like more information regarding peer support, please contact an Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center near you.