Who Are Peer Workers?
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.
Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS) is enriched by the lived experiences of people in recovery, who play key roles in BRSS TACS project leadership, development, and implementation.
- Learn about the foundational core competencies for peer workers in behavioral health services.
- Access a list of frequently asked questions about core competencies for peer workers.
- Learn more about the process of recovery.
Peer Support Role
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
Peer support workers may need to develop additional core competencies to provide services to specific groups who also share common experiences, such as family members. The shared experience of being in recovery from a mental health and/or substance use condition or being a family member is the foundation on which the peer recovery support relationship is built in the behavioral health arena.
Peer Support Resources
Use the following resources to learn more about the role that peers play in recovery. Please read the SAMHSA.gov Exit Disclaimer for more information on resources from non-federal websites.
- Peer workers are emerging as important members of treatment teams. The “Supervision of Peer Workers TA Resource” (PDF | 702 KB) helps supervisors understand how to supervise peer workers in behavioral health services. The resource includes a slide deck (PDF | 9.1 MB), slide deck with trainer notes (PDF | 9.14 MB), one-page self-assessment tool for supervisors (PDF | 239 KB), and resources (PDF | 124 KB).
- Value of Peers – 2017 (PDF | 2 MB) describes how peer supports advance recovery and add value to behavioral health systems:
- Peer Support (PDF | 2 MB); Apoyo entre compañeros (Spanish version) (PDF | 183 KB)
- Family, Parent, and Caregiver Peer Support in Behavioral Health (PDF | 846 KB); Apoyo de compañeros para pares y otros cuidadores de niños y jóvenes (Spanish version) (PDF | 202 KB)
- Peers Supporting Recovery from Mental Health Conditions (PDF | 2 MB); Recuperación de problemas de salud mental (Spanish version) (PDF | 196 KB)
- Peers Supporting Recovery from Substance Use Disorders (PDF | 2 MB); Recuperación de trastornos de consume de sustancias con el apoyo de pares (Spanish version) (PDF | 202 KB)
- Getting Started With Evidence-Based Practices: Consumer-Operated Services – 2011 guides mental health authorities, agency staff, and others through the process of implementing evidence-based practices. It also highlights the importance of cultural competence.
- SAMHSA’s Recovery and Recovery Support topic explains how recovery-oriented care and recovery support systems help people with mental and/or substance use disorders manage their conditions successfully.
- What Are Peer Recovery Support Services? – 2009 explains peer recovery support services designed and delivered by people in recovery from substance use disorders.
Access video trainings on peer support services, youth and young adults, and other topics.