Peer Support Services
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. To learn more about the vital role peers play in recovery services, please visit our Events Calendar to view our upcoming peer-focused trainings or click on the resources below.
- 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.
- Peer Supervision Training: The Peer Supervision Training, co-developed by the Southeast Mental Health Technology Transfer Center and Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, will enable participants to implement strengths-based and recovery-oriented supervision practices with diverse Certified Peer Specialists, actively support Certified Peer Specialists professional and personal development, and advocate for Certified Peer Specialists and their integration into the workplace.
The training includes an in-depth look at how the strengths-based, recovery-oriented approach of Certified Peer Specialists is different from but can enhance traditional clinical interventions. The training also provides support for basic human resource management (recruitment, retention, and ethics) and a focus on supporting and nurturing a diverse workforce whose contributions to a comprehensive continuum of behavioral health care come from lived experiences that may be unfamiliar to traditionally trained and educated clinicians. Peer support remains an underutilized asset in many behavioral health settings. This training will empower administrators and supervisors to realize the full potential of a peer specialist workforce.
Alternatives: The Peer Perspective on Respite (4-Part Series). In this 4-part series we take a look at mental health respite care from the peer perspective, including discussions on its history and future direction, when and how it is being used (both in the Southeast and nationally), and the ways it can benefit one's recovery journey.
- Trauma and the Peer Perspective is a 3-part webinar series examining the experiences of Certified Peer Specialists (CPS) as they navigate, utilize, and provide trauma services. The prevalence and impact of trauma is undeniable. Statistics show that as many as 90% of the people who enter the public behavioral health system have experienced trauma. The adverse childhood experiences study (ACE) demonstrates the correlation between early childhood adversity and negative health outcomes in adulthood, including heart disease, cancer, substance misuse and mental health challenges. This series will examine the myriad of ways trauma is defined and addressed within behavioral health systems. We will explore how systems can create trauma and/or retraumatize those seeking help and how trauma informed peer support and services can be a game changer. For additional information, view the accompanying infographic.
- Peer 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. For additional information, view the accompanying infographic.
- 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. For additional information, view our "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.
- Providing Peer Support to Individuals in Dual Recovery Townhall: In recognition of National Recovery Month, the Southeast Mental Health Technology Transfer Center hosted a panel discussion featuring Certified Peer Specialists providing Peer Support Services to individuals in dual recovery (from substance use and mental health concerns). For additional information, view the accompanying infographic for highlights from the panel discussion, including the challenges and opportunities that CPS face in providing dual recovery peer support, the resources needed to build and maintain a successful community-based dual recovery program, and how communities and behavioral health providers can benefit from such programs.
- Supporting CPS of Color (Fact Sheet): Given their shared lived experiences, Certified Peer Specialists (CPS) are crucial in offering mutually beneficial support to peers who are recovering from psychiatric and/or substance use disorders. The emotional and interpersonal understanding between a peer and CPS is crucial in the recovery journey. This fact sheet examines the unique role of CPS of color, identifies challenges they may face, and suggests recommendations an organization can implement to support CPS of color.
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).