Using Peers to Support Physical and Mental Health Integration for Adults with Serious Mental Illness
People with mental illnesses use more resources and are more expensive to cover than Medicaid enrollees without these disorders. Moreover, the subset of adults with serious mental illness (SMI) has the highest per person cost of all disabled, non-dually eligible individuals enrolled in state Medicaid programs.
Trained peer support specialists are well positioned to bridge the gap between physical and behavioral health services for people with SMI as part of whole-person, recovery-oriented system of care. For state policymakers interested in better integrating care for individuals with SMI, this brief provides an overview of the use of peer supports in state mental health systems, and offers examples of the emerging use of these non-clinical staff as part of an integrated care approach. The brief also includes some key questions for state policymakers to consider as they explore the use of peer services to promote integrated care for Medicaid enrollees with SMI in their state.