Fewer than a quarter of people who experience mental illness in America receive any outpatient mental health care. Of the young adults who got care, more than half pay for it out of pocket (SAMHSA National Survey). One of the biggest barriers to accessing care is cost, and many therapists don’t accept insurance.
We pay our professional peer supporters fairly for their work and provide free training, support and supervision for them. This means that our Peers.net service costs $65 for a 50 minute session. While that’s less than therapy, we know many people still need assistance to cover the cost.
We are committed to making Peers.net accessible to all youth.
To fulfil this commitment, we are partnering with nonprofits and youth-led organizations to donate free Peers.net sessions for their teen and young adult members until we have insurance coverage for our peer support.
The founding partners of our Peers.net Giveback Initiative are:
Active Minds is the nation’s premier nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for young adults.
Dragonfly Mental Health is focused on cultivating excellent mental health in academics worldwide by developing, deploying, and evaluating evidence-based strategies.
I Have The Right To works on creating an ecosystem of respect and support for students and survivors of sexual assault. Founded by a survivor and their parents, they are a hub for middle and high school students, parents, and educators looking for information, support, and avenues of action against sexual assault.
The Mental Health Initiative For South Asians (MHISA) is a grass-roots organization founded by students at UT Austin committed to addressing the societal and structural barriers which prevent South Asian-Americans from accessing mental health care.
Morgan’s Message strives to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health within the student-athlete community and equalize the treatment of physical and mental health in athletics.
NAMI Clackamas is an Oregon-based chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, dedicated to improving the quality of life for everyone impacted by mental health issues through support, education, and advocacy. We hope to work with more NAMI chapters in future.
OutCare Health is a non-profit leading the charge for LGBTQ+ health equity worldwide, empowering millions of LGBTQ+ individuals with comprehensive resources, support, and education.
Running Start is a nonpartisan nonprofit that trains young women to run for political office. When they surveyed their members how they could support them further, mental health was the #1 request.
We’ll be adding more partners over the next few months. If you are a non-profit or youth-led organization that would like to receive donated sessions for your members, please get in touch. It doesn’t matter whether your mission is directly related to mental health or not – all that matters is that you want to support the mental health of your teen and young adult members, and have a way to distribute our peer support sessions to them.
The role of philanthropy in funding mental health innovation
We believe that peer support should be part of the healthcare system, provided by professional peer supporters who are paid for their work, and funded equitably by insurance alongside other forms of mental health care.
Today, there are only 25,000 people who work as a peer support specialists in the US. Insurance reimbursement for peer support exists, but is not yet wide-spread. As a result, much of peer support is provided by volunteers and funded by philanthropy. This will not scale to reach the millions of people who could benefit from peer support.
We are actively working on partnerships with Medicaid and private insurance companies, so that our Peers.net service will be covered by insurance. But insurance contracts take a while to set up, especially for Medicaid which is administered differently in each state.
Philanthropy can play an instrumental role to provide bridge funding to demonstrate that peer support works: for young people who want faster access to quality care, for provider groups who are thinking about integrating peer support into their care model, and for health insurance plans who are looking to reduce the overall cost of health care.
On the research side, Professors Keanan Joyner at UC Berkeley and Greg Hajcak at Santa Clara University are conducting a study to assess whether Peers.net telehealth peer support can reduce anxiety and depression in young adults. The study is independent of Flourish Labs, and funded by The Cohen Foundation, the Penner Family Foundation, and an individual donor.
Donors can also help us provide more peer support sessions to our partner organizations. Your donation will go directly to the organization to support their mental health work, and we will provide them with discounted sessions in addition to the free ones we’re donating.
This is why I am announcing this initiative at the Milken Health Institute Future of Health Summit today, the most important gathering of philanthropists in the health space.
How you can help: Give the gift of peer support today
We’re going to keep giving away sessions until we have reached our goal of getting wide-spread insurance coverage for our peer support. We’re an early stage startup and have limited funds, so we need your help!
If you have a teen or young adult in your life who could benefit from support, consider buying a gift card for them. Remember, we’ll donate one session for every session you buy.
If you are a donor and would like to fund a bundle of 100 or more sessions to one of our partners or another organization you already support, and would like us to include in our Giveback Initiative, please get in touch.
Together with our community partners and your help, we can bring professional mental health peer support to millions of youth across the country who otherwise would not be able to access it.