Peer Specialists are individuals who have experienced mental illness first-hand and have unique insight to support the recovery of others. Idaho is one of many states that have recognized the value of incorporating Peer Specialists into their mental health services staff.
Peer Specialists promote recovery by their peers hope and encouragement, and emphasizing self-direction and empowerment. For persons living with a mental illness, recovery is an individual experience and encompasses all aspects of one’s life. The recovery journey involves the development of hope, self-esteem, and purpose, making one’s own choices, forming connections with others, and living a satisfying and meaningful life.
The Idaho Peer Specialist Training and Certification Program offers training on an annual basis. State funding covers the training of 14 individuals per year – two from each of Idaho’s seven mental health service regions. The five-day course teaches the concepts and stages of recovery, the role of a Peer Specialist, skills in effective listening, goal setting, problem-solving, and promoting whole health, Peer Specialist ethics, among additional important topics. Those who complete the course are invited to take a certification exam to become eligible for employment as a Certified Peer Specialist. For complete information on the next training session, please visit the OCAFA website.
Mountain States Group currently employs seven part-time Certified Peer Specialists. They are working within the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Regional Mental Health Programs throughout the state. Most of the Peer Specialists are assisting clients as a part of a region’s Assertive Community Treatment Team, and many work with clients involved in Idaho’s District Mental Health Courts.
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