Peer Support Services
The GMHCN conducting a listening session with peers in Georgia
A certified peer specialist is a person with a lived experience of a mental health condition that supports and assists others in their recovery. Certified peer specialists can help improve outcomes by modeling successful behaviors and coping strategies and by guiding others in effectively utilizing community resources. A growing body of evidence supports the benefits of peer specialists in supporting mental health recovery and physical well-being, across a range of mental health and primary care settings. (1.2)
Peer Support Specialists are role models of hope, self-care and recovery skills. Their lived experience helps clients not only with the daily task of living with and recovering from mental illness, but also in navigating the complex mental health care system. They are specially qualified to help clients develop goals and wellness plans, monitor recovery progress, get support during a crisis, and learn effective coping strategies. Peers also assist in obtaining resources, overcoming day-to-day barriers associated with mental illness, and changing stigma.
Peer Support Services are a main focus of the Southeast MHTTC’s activities. In partnership with the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network (GMHCN), we provide trainings to peer specialists and peer employers throughout the eight HHS Region IV states. Our training entitled “The Peer Voice: The Foundation of a Recovery-Oriented System of Change” provides mental health peers the ability to gather data from their communities to build support for mental health recovery. Participating peers learn how grassroots mental health organizations successfully emerge by responding to the needs and goals of the people in their communities and by working collaboratively with other organizations and service providers.
- Interested in what peer services look like in your Region IV state? See our peer resources by visiting our Products & Resources Catalog or clicking on your state below.
- Perspectives in Mental Health Crisis is a four-part webinar series examining the experiences of Certified Peer Specialists (CPS) as they navigate, utilize, and provide crisis services. The first session, “Defining a Mental Health Crisis,” features a discussion by Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network and guest panelists on how different groups of people define and use the words "mental health crisis" and how these different understandings impact outcomes. In part 2 "Peer Experiences in Crisis", our facilitators and panel discuss the differing peer perspectives on and experiences with crisis, explain strategies for preventing and managing crises, and provide crisis support resources. In part 3 "Decriminalizing Mental Health Crisis", peer panelists discuss factors that have contributed to the criminalization of mental health issues and identify strategies that can help communities to decriminalize mental illness, including diversion, co-responding, and forensic peer mentoring. In the final session, "Alternatives for Preventing and Responding to Crisis", our facilitators and panelists provide insight into how to avoid or lessen the negative impact of a mental health crisis.
- Elevating Language through COVID-19 (Part 1) webinar: This on-demand training provides a 360-degree view of the language of behavioral health. In the training, we take a peer-centered look at how language is used by others to describe us, how we use language to describe ourselves, and how language can increase or decrease stigma and access to quality mental health recovery and wellness supports. We will look at the behavioral health language that has emerged through the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss alternatives and opportunities.
- Elevating Language through COVID-19 (Part 2) webinar: In Part Two: Creating the Elevating Message of our Elevating Language series, individuals are guided through developing a two-minute message of behavioral health hope and possibility to use when advocating for behavioral health supports and services.
- In Our Own Words: A Toolkit for Peer Advocacy Using Recovery-Based Language: This toolkit increases awareness of the language used when talking about mental health and guides peers through the process of crafting their own elevator message. The toolkit also includes steps individuals can follow when developing an elevator message and refer to a worksheet to facilitate the process.
SAMHSA recognizes the value of peers. To learn more about peer provider resources, visit the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions.
1. Chinman, Matthew, et al. "Peer support services for individuals with serious mental illnesses: assessing the evidence." Psychiatric Services 65.4 (2014): 429-441.
2. Bellamy, Chyrell, Timothy Schmutte, and Larry Davidson. "An update on the growing evidence base for peer support." Mental Health and Social Inclusion (2017).