A Peer Support Specialist is a professional with lived mental health experience who is trained and certified to provide help and encouragement for others who are also working their way toward wellness. These specialists may go by different names in different settings. For example, they may be called Certified Recovery Support Specialists, and in the Department of Veterans Affairs, they are referred to as Peer Support Technicians.
Regardless of what title they have, Peer Support Specialists all have a common commitment to helping others, working from a strengths-based perspective. Utilizing peers with shared experiences to deliver services is empowering, and research has proven that this approach is highly effective in:
- Reducing expensive inpatient service use
- Reducing recurrent psychiatric hospitalizations for patients at risk of readmission
- Improving relationships between peers and their health care providers
- Helping people engage more fully in their own care
- Significantly increasing each peer’s ability to manage symptoms and reduce reliance on formal services while still achieving positive recovery outcomes