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We fund organizations and projects which disrupt our current behavioral health space and create impact at the individual, organizational, and societal levels.

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Tia Burroughs Clayton, MSS
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Alyson Ferguson, MPH
Chief Operating Officer

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Vivian Figueredo, MPA
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

Derrick M. Gordon, PhD
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Georgia Kioukis, PhD
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Samantha Matlin, PhD
Senior Learning & Community Impact Consultant

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Caitlin O'Brien, MPH
Director of Learning & Community Impact

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Joe Pyle, MA

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Nadia Ward, MEd, PhD
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Bridget Talone, MFA
Grants Manager for Learning and Community Impact

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Hitomi Yoshida, MSEd
Graduate Fellow

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Ashley Feuer-Edwards, MPA
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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NAMI San Diego PeerLINKS

NAMI San Diego

NAMI San Diego PeerLINKS Logo

Program Website
Winner Status:
Program Type:
Symptom Management and Treatment Adherence
Target Population:
Individuals with Serious Mental Illness

Program Description

NAMI San Diego PeerLINKS program makes fundamental changes to the existing mental health practice approach by initiating the use of Peer/Family Support Specialists in two distinct settings: 1) Behavioral Health Hospital Setting-at discharge and 2) Crisis Residential Facilities. The objective is to reduce the number of psychiatric re-hospitalizations among thus reducing high medical costs and increasing use of community behavioral health prevention programs. A unique program element is the use of professional Peer/Family Support Specialists (PFSS), who have lived experience with mental illness themselves. In addition, the Peer/Family Support Specialists are mobile and can connect with a participant at or near discharge from a hospital or crisis center. When connected, participants work side by side with the PFSS t to access to live support and essential services. The program is voluntary, and currently private. This award can make the program possible for public use. Services included but not limited to the following: • Engagement of individuals from two Behavioral Health Hospital Units and two Crisis Residential Facilities • Community mentoring for 1-year post discharge • Training and coaching to utilize shared decision-making tools • Connections to a spectrum of services based on participant needs, including recreational activities and housing resources


How do you help people with serious mental illness learn about recovery when “going to the hospital” has been their only known option? The answer…get creative! That’s exactly what NAMI San Diego did when designing and implementing peer assistant transitions programs. NAMI San Diego knows peer support works and the proof is in the results. The PeerLINKS approach doesn’t just sound like the right thing, it is the right thing. Participants show improvement in overall health, memory, and resilience. Lower levels of depression, anxiety, and anger are seen. As participants progress, they are able to connect to resources, community-based mental health treatment, and rebuild their support network. The originality of PeerLINKS Peer/Family Support Specialist is the understanding and deep empathy for those in the program. This is because each PFSS has walked in their shoes. And, stands by the side of the participant as they move forward.


NAMI San Diego leads the way in creating partnerships in a hospital setting to aid individuals and family members that are impacted by mental illness. NAMI San Diego leads by 1) directing service programs which demonstrate success, 2) maintaining employment programs for these individuals and family members who want to gain employment in the mental health field, and 3) training mental health entities on integrating and usage of Peer/Family Support Specialists in traditional mental health work settings. In addition, we have enlisted expert knowledge through collaboration with University of San Diego’s Health Research Center to develop and track outcomes on the of efficacy Peer/Family Support Specialists integration. The PeerLINKS model encourages data sharing to support our county-wide goal and the Live Well San Diego Initiative to create healthy, safe, and thriving communities. Lastly, PeerLINKS can be replicated in more hospital settings and that is where the Scattergood award can help.


PeerLINKS has demonstrated sustainability as a hospital-based program which was developed from an original innovation from the San Diego County contract called Hope Connections. Hope Connections began as a model to incorporate community hospital-based behavioral health units and crisis residential facilities and is now a sustainable multi-year contract called Next Steps which operates in San Diego County Psychiatric Hospital. The County of San Diego acknowledged the great successes of the Hope Connections program and then developed a proposal for the hospital and community-based Peer Assisted Transitions programs based on NAMI San Diego accomplishments. NAMI San Diego was awarded the competitive contract, which partners with UC San Diego Hospital, Scripps Mercy Hospital, Community Research Foundation, RI International, and Family Health Centers on our model and continuance. The consistently high referral rate demonstrated extremely successful outcomes which validate the sustainability of the program.


NAMI San Diego has successfully implemented a similar model in the San Diego County Psychiatric Hospital and is using strategies learned from this experience to effectively implement this program in Behavioral Health Hospitals and Crisis Residential Facilities. The lessons learned are streamlined and are standardized tools. Operations of these programs allow the model to be replicated in Behavioral Health Hospitals everywhere. Peer/Family Support Specialists are a valuable part of the healthcare system that reduces the stigma that overshadows mental illness and hinders recovery. Peer/Family Specialists provide a realistic peer partner for success throughout the recovery journey. At this time, 48 states provide formal Peer and Family Support Specialist certifications which justifies the need for this model within all behavioral health systems. The Scattergood Award would be integral in accomplishing this goal.


PeerLINKS participants report: “PeerLINKS was a huge part of my recovery” “My peer support specialist was a catalyst to saving my life” PeerLINKS admission rates: Pre-post data (n=49), PeerLINKS found 71.4% of participants had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital during the 30 days prior to their baseline; while only 18.4% were admitted during the 30 days prior to follow-up. Measures of recovery: There was a statistically significant increase in mean Milestones of Recovery Scale Scores (baseline=2.7, follow-up=4.6), where higher scores are associated with greater recovery. Participants showed statistically significant improvements in the Global Health, Resilience, Depression, Anger, Anxiety, Memory, and Suicidality sub-scales of the “Combined Health Assessment: Mental, Physical, Social, Substance, Strengths” scale. PeerLINKS connects participants to valuable resources, services, and community: Our data shows, 114 participants successfully connected with 555 resources/services. At follow up, participants reported more frequent contact with people that care and support them in recovery.