When it comes to mental health recovery, peer support–when those with a lived experience of mental illness who have gone through recovery provide guidance and support to others living with mental illness–has proven to benefit individuals going through recovery and transitioning back into the community. And as CPPP presented to lawmakers Tuesday at the Capitol, Texas has a unique opportunity to explore a peer support program to help inmates with mental illness transition out of local county jails, improve their well-being, and save tax dollars.
Up to 40 percent of bookings into local Texas county jails in 2013 were individuals who had previously received services and who likely had mental health needs. If basic community supports and care had been more available to them, they most likely wouldn’t have ended up in the criminal justice system in the first place.
CPPP’s mental health policy team recommended to the House Corrections and Criminal Jurisprudence joint committee that Texas pursue a peer support re-entry pilot program at the local county level. Research shows that peer supports can reduce symptoms, hospitalizations, use of crisis services, and substance abuse, and incorporating this kind of program in our local county jail system would improve the well-being of inmates with mental illness and substance abuse disorders and help reduce the likelihood that they end up back in jail.