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Peer Support Services

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Valued and Critical Element of Mental Health Care

Peer support services are an evidence-based mental health model of care which consists of a qualified peer support provider who assists individuals with their recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders. (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)

Peer Support Services are provided as one-on-one and group interventions by Peer Specialists—people in recovery from mental health conditions and substance use disorders. These professional act as trusted and motivating role models assisting others to:

  • Navigate often-confusing health care systems
  • Obtain needed services
  • Get the most out of treatment
  • Develop recovery plans
  • Build skills in daily living
  • Identify community resources

Integrated System of Care

Peer support services do not take the place of clinical services, rather they serve as an integral part of the health care delivery team. Trained and certified at the state level, by large health systems and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, they supplement and improve the effectiveness of mental health care in inpatient, outpatient and community settings.

Evidence-based Model of Care

Peer support services have been shown to:

  • Reduce expensive inpatient service use
  • Reduce recurrent psychiatric hospitalizations for patients at risk for readmission
  • Improve individuals’ relationships with their health care providers
  • Better engage individuals in care
  • Significantly increase individuals’ abilities to manage their symptoms and reduce their reliance on higher cost services while still achieving positive outcomes

Peer Support Services should be recognized for their value in assisting individuals in leading lives of wellness and recovery.

DBSA Policy Recommendations

  • Medicaid recognized reimbursable expense rise from the current 37 states to all 50
  • Inclusion of peer support services as an ACA essential health benefit
  • Expansion of current Veterans Affairs programs to increase the number and location of peer support services offered

Peer support services work because we instill hope. – Olga Wuerz, U.S. Army Veteran and VA Certified Peer Specialist, WOC