Several years ago, the state of Idaho began a program that would stretch the money paid by Medicaid for mental health services.  This program involves the use of PaychoSocial Rehabilitation Specialists also known as a PSR.  Since the inception of the program in Idaho it has subsequently spread to several other states.

A PSR specialist may work with children or adults helping them to make adjustments for healthier living in the outside world.  The PSR worker may meet with the child for up to 5 hours weekly and with the adult up to 4 hours each week.  Each worker is guided by a service plan that is written by a licensed counselor and approved by Medicaid to determine the skills to be reinforced.

In Idaho, the requirements for the PSR specialist include a four-year degree in the social sciences or education.  The worker may confer with the counselor and works under the supervision of a master’s level mental health worker.  The work with the client may take place in the home or in the community.  In many cases the worker helps the client to find new and better ways to deal with anger.

Many adult clients may have experienced problems with drugs or alcohol. They may have completed a program one or more times, but now need to learn the social skill that were missed while their lives were clouded by substance abuse.

As health care costs in general and mental health care cost in specific continue to rise, many other states are considering following the plan that was first started in Idaho.  While the job of a PSR worker pays a living wage for the worker, the cost is less for Medicaid or private insurance companies than the cost or a licensed counselor, a psychologist or a psychiatrist would be.

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