Peer support encompasses a range of activities and interactions between people who share similar experiences of being diagnosed with mental health conditions, substance use disorders, or both. This mutuality called “peerness”—between a peer support worker and person in or seeking recovery promotes connection and inspires hope. Peer support offers a level of acceptance, understanding, and validation not found in many other professional relationships. By sharing their own lived experience and practical guidance, peer support workers help people to develop their own goals, create strategies for self-‐empowerment, and take concrete steps towards building fulfilling, self-‐determined lives for themselves.
Peer support workers are people who have been successful in the recovery process who help others experiencing similar situations. Through shared understanding, respect, and mutual empowerment, peer support workers help people become and stay engaged in the recovery process and reduce the likelihood of relapse. Peer support services can effectively extend the reach of treatment beyond the clinical setting into the everyday environment of those seeking a successful, sustained recovery process.
Peer support workers engage in a wide range of activities. These include:
- Advocating for people in recovery
- Sharing resources and building skills
- Building community and relationships
- Leading recovery groups
- Mentoring and setting goals
Peer support roles may also extend to the following:
- Providing services and/or training
- Supervising other peer workers
- Developing resources
- Administering programs or agencies
- Educating the public and policymakers
Population of focus: All populations.
Links to resource:
- Read the full report on Value of Peers, 2017.
- Learn more about the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA).
- Learn more about the Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS).
- Learn more on the Core Competencies for Peer Workers in Behavioral Health Services.
- Find more resources on peer support on SAMHSA, BRSS-TACS.