Peer Supports

What are peer supports? Who are peer support staff?

Peer supports refer to mutual support and encouragement from an individual who has lived experience with a behavioral health condition and can use that lived experience to help others. Peer support staff are individuals in recovery from a mental health condition, substance use condition, or co-occurring condition who – with training – use their lived experience to assist others in their journey towards wellness and recovery.

Why implement peer supports?

The peer workforce supports client self-management to promote recovery and resiliency. Effectively leveraging peer support staff’s lived experiences can add value to the organization by complementing existing staff responsibilities and services. Research has shown that peer support facilitates recovery and reduces health care costs.[1] More specifically, current evidence demonstrates that peer support can reduce inpatient use and psychiatric hospitalizations, improve client engagement in less costly outpatient care, strengthen relationships between clients and providers, decrease substance use, and increase social functioning and quality of life outcomes. [2] For these reasons, providers and health plans serving individuals with behavioral health needs, including those who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, may benefit from integrating peer supports into their service delivery.

Understanding Peer Supports

Explore these resources to better understand the concepts behind peer supports.

How to Implement

Use these resources to understand the leading practices and techniques for implementing peer supports in your organization.

Peer Supports in Action

Reference these resources to understand how peer supports are applied in practice.

References

[1] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2015). Peer Support and Social Inclusion. Retrieved from: https://www.samhsa.gov/recovery/peer-support-social-inclusion.

[2] Davidson, L., Bellamy, C., Chinman, M., Farkas, M., Ostrow, L., Cook, J., Jonikas, J., . . . Salzer, M. (2018) Revisiting the Rationale and Evidence for Peer Support. Psychiatric Times, 35(6). Retrieved from: https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/special-reports/revisiting-rationale-and-evidence-peer-support

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