HHS Publishes National Model Standards for Peer Support

Jun 08, 2023

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has published the National Model Standards for Peer Support Certification for substance use, mental health and family peer workers.

A peer worker is someone who works to help others through their own lived experience of addressing a substance use or mental health issue. The national model standards were created to accelerate universal adoption, recognition and integration of the peer workforce across all elements of the healthcare system.

Building a national certification program for peer specialists was a primary goal outlined in President Biden’s 2022 State of the Union Address as part of the Unity Agenda to address the nation’s mental health crisis. SAMHSA’s national model standards are not intended as a substitute for any state certifications, but instead have been developed as guidance for states, territories, tribes, and others to promote quality and encourage alignment and reciprocity across often disparate state peer support certifications.

Since the 2015 release of SAMHSA’s Core Competencies for Peer Workers in Behavioral Health Services, the peer workforce has flourished, resulting in the implementation of state-endorsed or state-run peer certification programs across 49 out of 50 states.

HHS awarded $5.54 million to recovery community organizations through SAMHSA under the Building Communities of Recovery program to mobilize and connect a broad base of community-based resources to increase the prevalence and quality of long-term recovery support for people with substance use disorders (SUD) and co-occurring substance use and mental health issues. It is expected that these grant activities will be administered and implemented by individuals with lived experience who are in recovery from SUD and co-occurring SUD and mental health issues and reflect the needs and population of the community being served.

If you would like to learn more or become involved in ACA’s advocacy efforts, please contact the ACA Government Affairs and Public Policy team at advocacy@counseling.org.

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