Peer Support Services
What are peer support services?
For adults, peer support services are those that are provided by someone who is on their own recovery journey and has received training in how to be helpful to others who participate in mental health services.
For children, peer services are called "family-to-family" services. Family-to-family services are provided by parents who have been there, who have a child with mental health issues who has participated in mental health services and who have received training in how to be helpful.
Participating in Peer Support Services at your agency
Have you ever wished for a person to talk to who has had a mental health problem and gotten better? Maybe just someone who has had similar experiences within the mental health system who will listen to you? If you have a child with mental health challenges, maybe you wish to talk with someone who understands what it is like. If so, you may benefit from receiving peer support services. Ask about peer support services at your agency. If you have a child in the mental health system, ask about family-to-family services.
Who provides peer support services?
Peer support services are provided by peer support specialists (including family-to-family providers,) to individuals enrolled in the King County Mental Health Plan. Peer Support Specialists have had training in how to help other people make their lives better. They can also share their own recovery journey. There are many different purposes and types of peer supports. Some Peer Support Specialists are state Certified Peer Counselors. (Please see below for more information about Certified Peer Counselors.)
What can Peer Support Specialists do to help?
They can help people find interesting or fun things to do, advocate for themselves, make friends inside and outside of the mental health system, get a job, find better housing, and learn skills to live well in the community. A Peer Support Specialist will listen to you and help you think about who you are, what your skills and strengths are and help you identify your goals in participating in mental health services.
Peer Support Specialists might work with people in self-help support groups, telephone support lines, drop-in centers and/or during one-to-one peer counseling.
Family-to-Family peer support workers are parents who understand the stress of having a child with mental health issues by virtue of shared experience (i.e., have a grown or older child with the same or similar disorder), and can offer experience-based advice for coping with daily demands and how to work with the many different service systems that may be involved with your child.
Peer supports are customized to meet the needs of the individual, so if you have needs other than those listed above, you can work with your Peer Support Specialist to determine if there are other kinds of peer supports you could benefit from.
The King County Mental Health Plan has created guidelines for Peer Support Services. See: Standards for Peer Support Services.
Click here (PDF) for an article with more information regarding family-to-family peer support services.
Certified Peer Counselors
Medicaid has rules about the mental health services they will pay for. In order for a mental health agency to be reimbursed for the service called "peer support services", the peer support person must be certified by the state of Washington as a Certified Peer Support Counselor.
Peer Counselor Training
Are you interested in becoming a Certified Peer Counselor and providing peer supports to other consumers? King County offers training to those who are interested in becoming Certified Peer Counselors within King County. Find out more.