Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mental health leaders travel to D.C.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 9:41 AM

Tomorrow morning, leaders from Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group will be in Washington, D.C., to contribute thoughts and findings from local research at a Committee on Veterans Affairs' meeting.

The meeting, focused on "Innovative Treatments for TBI and PTSD," will offer various stakeholders the opportunity to share "treatment tools that have been developed or are in development" for military members who struggle from traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to a PPBHG release:

Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group plans to share new data on the effectiveness of its Peer Navigator Program, which has garnered the interest of the White House as well as Department of Defense officials in recent months.

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  • Courtesy Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group

As its name implies, the program provides peers — veterans or family members of veterans — to help soldiers and their families, free of charge, with the overwhelming challenges of reintegration and navigate the complex systems of care available to them. The individualized assistance by a peer is helpful to a group that is often slow to seek out and ask for assistance.

New research commissioned by Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group shows that, on average, military veterans who suffer from PTSD or TBI and do not seek help will cost the community about $60,000 a year for things such as unemployment benefits and, in some cases, incarceration. However, coming into contact with a Peer Navigator — who can help them with mental health and substance abuse services as well as employment training and placement and tedious paperwork — reduces that cost on society to about $11,000 a year per individual, the research shows.

The data and research are based on before and after surveys of a group of 106 people who have gone through the Peer Navigator Program.

“We know we have something that works,” said Chief Operating Officer Paul Sexton, who will testify during the roundtable. “We also know that there’s too much volume coming at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. We need community agencies like us to pull alongside and do some of the heavy lifting.”

The Department of Labor agreed. It recently awarded Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group more than $350,000 over three years to help incarcerated soldiers find jobs. The money will pay for two Peer Navigators. The Oklahoma-based Inasmuch Foundation, which has ties to Colorado, also recently awarded the program $10,000 to work with veterans.

You can watch the live broadcast online at 8 a.m. by clicking here. You can also learn more about PPBHG's Peer Navigator program by clicking here.

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