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Using the unique power of peer supports to enhance recovery and self-empowerment informs CAPS, a peer-run organization serving adults in New York’s capital region recovering from mental illnesses.

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Board Blog

Albany County Legislature buildingEarlier this year, fellow board member Stacy Carter and I went to the Albany County Legislature. Our purpose was to lay out CAP's expectations for a new Director of the Albany County Department of Mental Health. At the time, Dr. Stephen J. Giordano was the Acting Director. Dr. Giordano has been supportive of peer services and we wanted him to be the Director.


The expectations we spoke of to the legislature were that any new director should:

  • Have knowledge of the mental health consumer movement
  • Demonstrate willingness to utilize peer input into mental health programs, planning and development
  • Provide assistance in securing funds to promots peer programs
  • Demonstrate willingness to utiize trained peer advocates in county mental health and community programs
  • Demonstrate efforts to integrate peewr seervices into the mental health system

Evidence in Support of Peer Services

We presented information about the growing body of evidence supporting the use of community based consumer run mental health services as effective and cost saving aspects of the mental health services family. Information about two of these services is included here.
Peer Specialists and peer-run hospital alternative programs have been shown to improve outcomes for consumers dramatically. The cost savings to mental health service providers has been well documented.

  • Expected savings include:
  • Lower personnel costs,
  • Reduced hospitalization claims,
  • Reduced incarcerations/arrests,
  • Higher employment among mental health consumers, and
  • Reduced use of expensive crisis oriented programs.


Peer Specialists

A Peer Specialist is a newly developed mental health professional paid position that is held by a mental health consumer who is in recovery. Peer Specialists are highly trained and certified by some states to work directly with consumers and their recovery team. The support of Peer Specialists has proven to be one of the most effective strategies for achieving and maintaining recovery. For example, inpatient stays in traditional hospital programs average between 8-10 days. When Peer Specialists are involved as a member of the recovery team, those visits decrease to an average of only 4-5 days.

Peer-Run Respite or Hospital Diversion Programs

Peer-run respite homes provide support and education for those working to manage mental illness related symptoms. The environment is supportive and recovery-oriented. The goal of these programs is to avoid the need for expensive and unwanted hospitalization.

  • The average cost of a peer-run respite center for one person for one day is $250, compared to $1200 for a psychiatric hospital.
  • Current respite centers throughout the US cost about $270,000 to $300,000 per year.
  • The average savings to the states funding these centers is $3 million per year. 

Other Benefits

  • Over 60% indicated that they had visited the hospital 1-6 times prior to using peer services. The same percentage reported no hospital visits after using consumer-run services.
  • Nearly 40% had reduced the negative use of drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Reported instances with law enforcement dropped by approximately 25%.

Other than having to wait over an hour to even get in to the room, everything went very well.

Category: Board Blog

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Contact Details

Capital Area Peer Services
354 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12208-2311

P 518.427.5056
F 518.427.5059

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Capital Area Peer Services
354 Central Ave.
Albany, NY 12208-2311

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