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Implementing Recovery-based Care: Tangible Guidance for SMHAs - page 17 / 44





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NASMHPD/NTAC e-Report on Recovery – Fall 2004

META’s Recovery Education Center is a licensed, post-secondary educational institution. With classes on a range of topics including anger management, living with borderline personality disorder, wellness workshops, and community living, META has created an academic environment that continues to maintain its system’s therapeutic purpose.

As an example of the scope of this educational effort, for just one of META’s classes—a WRAP-based1, self-help class—the 2003 attendance was 18,600 students, with more than 200 ongoing classes per month in 20 locations, according to Johnson.

Where did META get the faculty, the curriculum, and the physical locations for such an enterprise? Value Options has a series of case management clinics around the area, so the classes are located where people are already receiving services. This space is provided for free to META. And one of the most significant parts of this process, according to Johnson, is that the curriculum was devised with the help of consumers.

Through an arrangement with the local community college, many of the Center’s classes are eligible for college credit so that the students are able to achieve an associate’s degree. In addition, most of the classes are taught by META-trained peer specialists.

Another aspect that keeps META in tune with recovery-based care is its staff makeup. According to Johnson, approximately half of the vendor’s staff is made up of consumer providers—almost 170 people—many of them trained within META’s own Peer Specialist training program.

The 70-hour, five-week course, started several years ago with an establishment grant through the Rehabilitation Services Administration, has graduated 500 peer specialists since 2001. The trainees were all existing consumers in the META system. In fact, the only requirements to enroll in the training program are that potential students have to be 1) receiving services in the system, and 2) willing to come to class.

“About 95% of the trainees graduate, and we find employment for about 68% of them,” said Johnson. “When people begin to work, they begin a whole new level of recovery. It has been transformational not just for the students, but for META’s [non-consumer] staff members because as people get better, the whole staff has more hope.”

“The other thing that training and hiring peer support specialists does is change our level of accountability right away,” said Johnson. “We had to change how we write about people, what we are saying. We had to get rid of stigmas we weren’t even aware of.”

1 WRAP is an acronym for the Wellness Recovery Action Program, a self-help program developed by Mary Ellen Copeland that teaches individuals who experience psychiatric symptoms, their family members, supporters, and health care professionals how to reduce or eliminate psychiatric symptoms safely, simply, and effectively on a daily basis, and how to get well and stay well. These skills are taught complementary to, and not exclusive of, other treatments, including medication and rehabilitation supports (Campbell & Leaver, 2003).

NASMHPD/NTAC e-Report on Recovery – Fall 2004

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