Peer Supports

Peer supports refers to mutual support and encouragement from an individual with lived experience and a health condition. Peer support staff are people 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.

The peer workforce supports self-management to promote recovery and resiliency. Effectively leveraging peer support staff’s lived experiences can add value to organizations 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 and psychiatric hospitalizations, improve individual engagement in less costly outpatient care, strengthen relationships between people receiving services and their 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 or other chronic health needs, including those who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, may benefit from integrating peer supports into their service delivery. Resources for Integrated Care has developed many products to help organizations and providers better understand how to integrate peer supports into their organizations.

1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2015). Peer Support and Social Inclusion. Retrieved from:

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: