Mental Health Advocacy and Reentry Transition Planning: Using Peer Advocates to Improve Outcomes

The DC Jail  Prison Advocacy Project at University Legal Services uses a holistic approach to connect returning citizens with serious and persistent mental illness with community services and supports. The goal of the Project is to remove the barriers which youth and adults with psychiatric disabilities face while seeking social integration, access to quality healthcare and support for their major needs as they transition from jail and/or prison. Peer advocacy and system navigation has been an essential piece of the reentry puzzle, ensuring better engagement from clients and leading to improved outcomes. Learn about how the Peer Advocate complements the work of JPAP lawyers and social worker and works independently to assist clients as they navigate the service system for a wide array of issues. The workshop will also describe the role of a peer organizing project that engages peers to participate in the in their communities. Presentation will include both qualitative and quantitative data.

Louis Sawyer, Jr., Peer Advocate, University Legal Services’ Jail and Prison Advocacy Project (DC)