Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Prev Med. 2018 Jun;54(6S3):S267-S274. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2018.02.019.

Emerging Roles for Peer Providers in Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders.

Author information

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California. Electronic address:
Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and Healthforce Center, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions, Sacramento, California.



The purpose of this study was to identify and assess states with best practices in peer provider workforce development and employment. A growing body of research demonstrates that peer providers with lived experience contribute positively to the treatment and recovery of individuals with behavioral health needs. Increased employment opportunities have led to policy concerns about training, certification, roles, and reimbursement for peer provider services.


A case study approach included a national panel of subject matter experts who suggested best practice states. Researchers conducted 3- to 5-day site visits in four states: Arizona, Georgia, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Data collection included document review and interviews with state policymakers, directors of training and certification bodies, peer providers, and other staff in mental health and substance use treatment and recovery organizations. Data collection and analysis were performed in 2015.


Peer providers work in a variety of settings, including psychiatric hospitals, clinics, jails and prisons, and supportive housing. A favorable policy environment along with individual champions and consumer advocacy organizations were positively associated with robust programs. Medicaid billing for peer services was an essential source of revenue in both Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states. States' peer provider training and certification requirements varied. Issues of stigma remain. Peer providers are low-wage workers with limited opportunity for career growth and may require workplace accommodations to maintain their recovery.


Peer providers are a rapidly growing workforce with considerable promise to help alleviate behavioral health workforce shortages by supporting consumers in attaining and maintaining long-term recovery.


This article is part of a supplement entitled The Behavioral Health Workforce: Planning, Practice, and Preparation, which is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center