The Peer Provider Workforce in Behavioral Health: A Landscape Analysis

Title: The Peer Provider Workforce in Behavioral Health: A Landscape Analysis

Authors: Blash, L., Chan, K., Chapman, S.

Type: Report

Year of Publication: 2015

Publisher: UCSF Health Workforce Research Center on Long-Term Care

Place Published: San Francisco

Keywords: Peer Providers in the Behavioral Health Workforce

Abstract Link:

Issue Brief:


Peer providers are individuals hired to provide direct support to those undertaking mental health (MH) or substance use disorder (SUD) recovery, often referred to in the literature as “consumers.” The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines a peer provider as “a person who uses his or her lived experience of recovery from mental illness and/or addiction, plus skills learned in formal training, to deliver services in behavioral health settings to promote mind-body recovery and resilience.” The key distinction between peer providers and traditional providers is the ability to draw from lived experience and experiential knowledge.

Peer support for addictions recovery has a long history in mutual-aid and peer-based recovery support groups that developed either as supplements to or substitutes for professional medical care. Peer support for mental health recovery arose out of the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s as a reaction to the enforced treatment and incarceration of persons with mental illnesses. While peer providers have traditionally worked as volunteers, changes in mental health and SUD treatment and recognition of the importance of long-term recovery support have led to a professionalization of this role with formalized training and certification, and the potential for paid employment.


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Related Resources: Education, Certification, and Roles of Peer Providers: Lessons from Four States and the accompanying State Case Studies: ArizonaGeorgia, Texas, and Pennsylvania