Integrating Peer Support into Your Organization: Lessons Learned, Moving Forward

This resource was selected by SMI Adviser content partners and approved by the SMI Adviser clinical expert team for inclusion in the knowledge base.

Over the last 10 years, two overlapping developments in behavioral health services have seen exponential growth. First, peer support has increasingly been incorporated as an integral component of the behavioral health service delivery system to promote recovery, wellness, and resiliency.  Second, more and more community behavioral health and allied service and health agencies and organizations are seeking to develop trauma-informed approaches in the way they deliver services. Concurrently, state and local systems are looking at new ways to address adverse childhood experiences, child abuse and neglect, bullying, interpersonal violence, sexual and gender-based violence, community violence, and more.

In response to these trends, more and more states have developed peer specialist training and certification requirements, and have identified sustained mechanisms for reimbursing peer support services, whether through Medicaid waiver programs, managed care, block grant, or other financing approaches. On the other hand, systematic efforts to help organizations integrate peer support in a trauma-informed manner have been spotty, whether in leadership support, policy development, staff buy-in, clarity of roles, recruitment and hiring, or supervision and staff retention.

The purpose of this Virtual Learning Network (VLN) is to help participating organizations effectively integrate, implement, and sustain peer supports using a trauma-informed approach as part of a broader effort to become a trauma-informed organization.

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