Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

Pilot Evaluation of a Mental Health Peer Support Program for Older Adults Who Receive Medicaid

This pilot study evaluated the effects of a mental health intervention that paired an older adult volunteer with a participant (older adult who receives peer support). Volunteers received training on the strengths-based approach, mental health and aging, goal setting and attainment, community resources, and safety. Participant-volunteer pairs met once a week for 10 weeks. Aging services agencies provided a part time person to manage the program, match volunteers and participants, and provide ongoing support.

Thirty-two participants completed the intervention. Pre/post-assessment group means showed statistically significant improvement for depression but not for symptoms of anxiety. Quality-of-life indicators for health and functioning also improved for participants with symptoms of both depression and anxiety. The authors conclude that it is feasible to administer and sustain the intervention through collaborative efforts with minimal program resources and a small amount of technical assistance.

Gerontologist, Aug 2012 [Full Abstract]

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