Peer Support in Mental Health

In Michigan, Peer Support is given and received in many different ways. All types of Peer Support is of great value. Michigan Peer Support is a cornerstone of the Michigan Mental Health System Transformation and in the lives of each person in our state working to find a better recovery.

Peer Support is peers helping peers. Peers are people who have a mental illness/psychiatric diagnosis sharing things they have learned about recovery with other people who also have a mental illness/psychiatric diagnosis (peers) so everyone can get a better quality of life. This sharing of recovery skills happens all the time, in many different places, in many different ways.

The peer support happening in Michigan is both paid and unpaid and both kinds of peer support are important.

Unpaid Peer Support/Natural Peer Support

Unpaid peer support is often called natural peer support. This type of peer support happens between friends, like when we share thoughts and ideas over a cup of coffee or sit on a park bench together. You don’t have to have gone to a training to give or receive some types of natural peer support.

Advisory Boards and Committees

Another type of unpaid peer support is when Peers serve on Advisory Boards and Committees. There are hundreds of peers (sometimes called consumers) on advisory boards and committees that are a part of community mental health services across Michigan. Committee involvement is varied with topics ranging from Recipient Rights to System Transformation.

The Michigan Mental Health Code specifies there must be consumer involvement on community mental health boards and Pre-Paid Inpatient Health Plan (PIHP) Boards. Many organizations that provide services to consumers (our peers) through the community mental health service providers also have mental health consumers (peers) on advisory boards and committees.

These peers are considered unpaid or natural support.

Peer Support Groups

Another type of natural peer support is when peers run support groups like

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Connection Groups Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) Support Groups Schizophrenia Anonymous (SA) Support Groups.

There are many other types of peer support groups that are run by natural peer support. Some peer support groups are online (virtual support) and some peer support groups are community based.

Paid Peer Support

Consumer Operated Services

There are also many different types of peer support in Michigan where peers are paid for providing peer support. These include peer run organizations like the Justice in Mental Health Organization (JIMHO), other Drop-in Centers, The Recovery Institute and other peer run organizations. Peer run organizations are sometimes called Peer Providers or Consumer-Operated Services.

Peer Support Specialists

Another type of paid peer support in Michigan is when a peer goes to a peer support specialists training and becomes a Michigan Certified Peer Support Specialist who can provide services under the 1915b(3) Medicaid Specialty Services Waiver.

When a Certified Peer Support Specialist provides services under the Medicaid Waiver they support, mentor and assist beneficiaries to achieve community inclusion, participation, independence, recovery, resiliency and/or productivity. There are 754 Michigan Certified Peer Support Specialists as of August 2010.

In Michigan Certified Peer Support Specialists may:

Work on Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams Assist in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Groups, Work in Jail Diversion, lead groups May handle case loads Work in clubhouses Assist in finding housing Work in both supported employment Work in supported education Assist people in getting services Assist in, lead or attend person-centered planning meetings Help people find ways to get into a more solid recovery Do many things not mentioned here.

To learn more about becoming a Michigan Certified Peer Support Specialist or about the Peer Support Specialist training, contact the community mental health service provider agency liaison in your area.

In addition; there are many other ways peers serve as either paid or unpaid peer support in Michigan, either in the communities in which they reside or as volunteer or paid support in facilities, jails, prisons, etc.

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