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Peer Supports in Behavioral Health Care: A 2022 Resource Guide for Advocates

By Cheryl Fish-Parcham,


Grim statistics on untreated mental health conditions and substance use disorders (SUD) in the United States show the pressing need for an expanded behavioral health workforce. Peer support specialists† — people with lived experience — play a crucial role in behavioral health care and can be part of an expanded workforce strategy.

This paper:

  1. Highlights the growing numbers of adults and youth who have untreated behavioral health conditions;
  2. Notes the role that peer specialists may play as states implement the 988 National Suicide Prevention line and establish crisis response systems;
  3. Describes research and state experience on the effective roles of peer specialists and peer navigators; and
  4. Provides a list of questions for advocates to explore with their states or communities about how they can make effective use of peer specialists in crisis and suicide intervention and, more broadly, how they can incorporate peers into a workforce pipeline.

Click the download button below, to read the Advocacy Guide.