Peer-Led Projects:

Assessing the priorities of recovery communities across Massachusetts.

The COE has partnered with Peer Consultants (PCs), who are individuals with lived experience of mental health and/or substance misuse challenges. PCs are community leaders affiliated with Massachusetts recovery learning centers, and they consistently inform our research by giving voice to the priorities of community members. Together, we work to assess unmet needs and implement projects, including quality improvement initiatives, across the Commonwealth.

LISTENING GROUPS

AIMS

Our main aim was to implement listening groups and identify concerns in care among those in recovery from mental health or substance misuse challenges.

METHODS

Seven PCs designed and piloted a semi-structured interview guide for listening groups, which included questions related to lived experience and topics of interest. Historically underrepresented groups were recruited to participate, including: Latinx, African Americans, LGBTQ+, homeless persons, students/young adults, and deaf and hard of hearing community members. PCs facilitated 1.5-hour-long listening group sessions in a casual, conversational format among recovery communities in Massachusetts.

RESULTS

A total of 18 listening groups were facilitated among 159 participants, with two conducted in Spanish and one conducted in American Sign Language. The median age of participants was 48.0 years (IQR: 33.5-59.0), and the majority of respondents self-identified as White (57%), female (57%), and non-Hispanic (63%). Approximately 20% of participants distinguished themselves as Certified Peer Specialists.

Listening groups were audio-recorded and transcribed, and those conducted in Spanish were translated through consensus by two native Spanish speakers. A diverse coding team that included a PC, a research fellow, and a clinical research coordinator used rapid analysis coding to consolidate findings and identify themes within and across listening groups.

Results are currently being shared back to communities, and we hope to promote continued collaboration and mutual learning based on our findings.

PARENTS IN RECOVERY VIDEO

Guided by findings from the listening groups and PCs’ interests, the Parents in Recovery Video was created to promote the importance of the parenting role, reduce stigma, and lessen feelings of isolation among parents with mental health and substance use challenges. We are actively working to integrate the video in interactive trainings and among different groups, including parents, child mental health providers, adult mental health providers, families, and DMH-affiliated groups.

COE PROJECT STAFF

Anne Whitman, PhD, CPS

SENIOR PEER CONSULTANT

Paul Alves, CARC, NCPRSS, MAPGS

PEER CONSULTANT

Valeria Chambers, CPS, EdM, CAS

PEER CONSULTANT

Ryan Markely, BA, CPS

PEER CONSULTANT

Jacqueline Martinez, FPS, CPS

PEER CONSULTANT

Cynthia Piltch, PhD

PEER CONSULTANT

Sandra Whitney-Sarles, MS, CPS, COAPS

PEER CONSULTANT

Corinne Cather, PhD

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Derri Shtasel, MD, MPH

CO-INVESTIGATOR

Katherine Kritikos, MPH

PROGRAM MANAGER

Lisa LeFeber, BA

CLINICAL RESEARCH
COORDINATOR

Hannah Skiest, BA

CLINICAL RESEARCH
COORDINATOR

Additional Collaborators

Diana Arntz, PhD; Jonathan Burke, JD; Scott Francis, CPS; Reverend Norma Heath; Beth Starck, BA.

Funding

Funding for these projects was provided by the MGH COE/Massachusetts Department of Mental Health.